Folic Acid & Pregnancy

Vitamin C helps fight colds.  Calcium builds strong healthy bones. Folic acid can help prevent birth defects in babies. Women who have never been pregnant may not be aware of the importance of folic acid while pregnant.  It’s not a nutrient most of us talk about –  unless you are considering becoming pregnant. 

Folate is a type of Vitamin B found in the body that is important to the process of making new cells and to the creation of the neural tube that forms a baby’s brain and spinal cord.  These developments happen during the first month of pregnancy, which is why mothers need to have enough folate before they become pregnant.

Without enough folate a baby is at risk of being born with severe birth defects such as spina bifida.

If a woman can become pregnant, it is recommended she take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid (the man-made version of folate) daily to help prevent birth defects, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.  

Women can get the recommended amount by taking a vitamin with folic acid and/or eating foods high in folate.


The Texas WIC program, an educational and nutritional resource for expecting mothers, outlines that folate (the natural form of folic acid) can be found naturally in foods such as:  

  • Broccoli, 
  • Asparagus
  • Lima beans, dried beans, and peas
  • Spinach and turnip greens
  • Oranges, tangerines, and grapefruit
  • Nuts and sunflower seeds

Some rice, pasta, bread, and breakfast cereals are also enriched with folic acid.

Getting enough folic acid is just one way a woman can help ensure she has a healthy pregnancy. Visit a Texas WIC clinic near you to see if you are eligible for the free program aimed at helping Texas mothers ensure they have a healthy pregnancy. You can find a clinic by visiting our location page. Mothers can shop for healthy foods any Lone Star Family Market, a Primarily WIC grocery store chain.