Folic acid in pregnancy

Folic acid in pregnancy - how long to take it and what is the dosage

Folic acid is often referred to as one of the most important vitamins for pregnant women or women planning to become pregnant. It is important to note that the level of folic acid in the blood does not only have a positive effect on the woman herself, but also significantly contributes to the healthy development of the fetus. Scientists have shown that its optimal level demonstrably prevents the occurrence of certain developmental defects in the fetus. So do not underestimate its importance during pregnancy. Why is folic acid considered such an important vitamin for pregnant women? What are the effects of folic acid? And what can excess folic acid cause?

Published: 02.05.2023
Updated: 04.12.2023

A gynecologist usually recommends starting to take folic acid at a time when the mother-to-be does not have enough in her body. However, you will do much better if you start taking folic acid in larger quantities even before the conception of the baby. Folic acid belongs to vitamins that are contained in several foods. If it is difficult to obtain a sufficient amount from the natural diet, supplementation can help thanks to nutritional supplements in the form of candies, capsules, pills, drinks or powders. How and why to supplement folic acid during pregnancy?

Folic acid for pregnant women and its effects

Acidum folicum - folic acid belongs to the group of B vitamins and bears the designation B9 (synthetic vitamin). It is soluble in water and helps the formation of amino acids. It significantly participates in the process of hematopoiesis in the body. Every human body needs folic acid. It occurs naturally in certain foods and can also be taken through quality nutritional supplements.

Her intake and level of vitamin B9 in the blood is very important for women in the initial phase of pregnancy, not only for the woman herself, but also for the baby. Folic acid, in addition to affecting the blood formation process and the production of red blood cells, is a kind of prevention against the development of fetal defects and disorders of the baby's nervous system. Especially in the 1st trimester of pregnancy, the development of important parts of the body, such as the brain and spinal cord. In the period from conception itself, it has a positive effect on the division of germ cells. If a woman uses synthetic vitamin B9, the body effectively converts it into methylfolate (note, if this active form is not already part of the nutritional supplement), which subsequently has a positive effect on the human body. Folic acid ensures DNA and RNA synthesis and also contributes to better functionality of the circulatory system.

Folic acid for pregnant women and its effects

Why take folic acid before pregnancy?

There are studies that show that a long-term lack of folic acid in the body can weaken fertility, or cause infertility or complications when trying to get pregnant. Does folic acid support pregnancy? It has not been proven that folic acid and its effects would directly support the conception of a child. However, the optimal level is important in all circumstances. Folic acid before pregnancy is important not only for the above reasons, but also reduces the risk of spontaneous abortion. At the same time, folic acid and menstruation have no connection or specific influence on the regularity of the cycle.

A woman should increase her daily intake of folic acid approximately 3 to 6 months before the planned pregnancy. A higher level already in the conception phase indicates that the future mother will not have a problem with vitamin B9 deficiency during pregnancy. The average recommended daily dose of folic acid for humans is 200 to 400 micrograms. Before a planned pregnancy, it is advisable to increase this level to the upper limit of 400 micrograms per day. Interestingly, in men, for example, a sufficient long-term intake of folic acid can affect sperm quality.

Dosage of folic acid in pregnancy

Folic acid in the 1st trimester should reach optimal values in the blood. The dosage of folic acid during pregnancy should be around 600 to 800 micrograms per day. The level of 1,000 micrograms per day should not be exceeded. It is necessary to increase this level for a natural reason. Changes occur in a woman's body, the fetus begins to develop and grow in the 1st trimester, which then continues throughout the rest of the pregnancy. The effects of folic acid are important primarily in the first phase of fetal development. Maintaining such a value in the blood - folic acid is very positive. If you are wondering how long to take folic acid during pregnancy, know that you can safely continue using it even during the 2nd trimester. Its intake definitely does not harm your body or the baby. Later you can reduce the dose to around 400 micrograms/day.

Folic acid for pregnant women and its effects

Excess folic acid - beware of overdose

The upper limit of the daily dose is 1,000 micrograms. Excess folic acid can have side effects. Although their action is often minimal, because the excess of folic acid in the body is usually excreted by the body normally in the urine, because it is soluble in water. So the body takes as much as it needs. In order for the side effects to become more serious, the dose would have to be exceeded for a long time by up to a thousand times. Nevertheless, the recommended dose should not be exceeded. Especially in pregnant women, incorrect dosage or an excess of folic acid, causing digestive problems - stomach problems, sleep disorders or irritation of the nervous system. Lack of folic acid, but also its excess, are not good either before or during pregnancy.

Where is folic acid found - enriching the diet

What does folic acid contain? Folic acid can be taken from a normal diet. Pregnant women or people with an insufficient level of folic acid in their blood should include some foods in their diet that naturally contain folic acid.

  • Asparagus, spinach, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, beetroot, iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, pumpkin, salad cucumber (vegetables),
  • peas, beans, soy, red lentils (legumes),
  • walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, pistachios (nuts),
  • bananas, strawberries, gooseberries, raspberries, avocado, orange, mango (fruit),
  • pork liver, beef and pork kidneys (meat),
  • eggs,
  • mold cheeses, soft cheeses,
  • yeast - yeast,
  • wheat germ, oatmeal and whole grain products.

The biggest problem with the intake of folic acid from regular food is its high sensitivity to heat. Due to the fact that many of the foods containing it need to be heat-treated before consumption , the amount of "leaflet" content can be reduced by 90 to 95%, depending on the type of food. The environment in which we store it also has an effect on the concentration of folic acid in food , neither acidity nor light suit it . For pregnant women, the intake of folic acid from the diet is also a problem due to increased sensitivity to certain foods or smells, as a result of which a feeling of nausea occurs.

Where is folic acid found?

Food supplements with folic acid - vitamin B9

For pregnant women or women who are planning to become pregnant, nutritional supplements are a suitable form of supplementing this vitamin. There is a large number of vitamins for pregnant women on the market. There is a separate vitamin B9 – folic acid (B12) or also complex vitamins for pregnant women, which also contain other necessary minerals (calcium, iron), vitamins or omega-3 fatty acids.

In the case of high-quality nutritional supplements, the absorption rate of 90 to 100% is essential. It should be mentioned that there are nutritional supplements containing folic acid in different forms. Some contain folates of folic acid (inactive form), which our body converts into the active form, while the effectiveness may be lower because some people (note up to 40% of the European population) do not have the necessary enzymes to be able to break down folic acid. The second form is methylfolate (L-methylfolate or quatrefolic), which our body no longer needs to break down, because it is an active form. We therefore recommend choosing the second form when choosing dietary supplements.

You can then choose whether tablets, soluble powders, capsules or folic acid in liquid form (drops or spray) are better for you. Which folic acid is best to take? It is impossible to say that this or that form is better or worse, it depends on the preferences of the pregnant woman. Never take such dietary supplements on an empty stomach and ideally take them during or after a meal. When choosing a supplement containing folic acid, also find out if it is suitable for pregnant women. Femibion is a popular vitamin for pregnant women, which also contains folic acid.


Taking folic acid during pregnancy is considered necessary by many women. Some have reported taking it when they wanted to get pregnant and eventually got pregnant, although they can't confirm that it was a result of taking this vitamin. Several women reported that folic acid reduces the risk of miscarriage and is good for the legal development of the baby. Even if you don't believe in its effects, they certainly can't do any harm either during trying or during pregnancy.

The most frequent questions - FAQ

Do you know why folic acid is so important for the body of pregnant women ? Why is it worth increasing the dosage of folic acid before pregnancy ? Does folic acid work to support pregnancy ? You can read everything important in our article. However, if you are interested in something more, do not hesitate to write to us and we will be happy to answer you. If you have experience with the use or effects of folic acid, we would appreciate your opinions and advice. Join the discussion under the article and you can give advice to other readers.

Folic acid has a demonstrable effect on the development of the fetus and important organs of the baby, such as the brain and spinal cord. It eliminates the risk of development defects of the fetus. It also affects the division of germ cells after fertilization. It significantly participates in the blood formation process and stimulates the production of red blood cells in the body. It takes care of proper RNA and DNA synthesis and also contributes to the proper functioning of blood circulation.

Folic acid occurs naturally in certain types of food. A high concentration is found, for example, in asparagus, spinach, but also in beetroot, cauliflower, iceberg lettuce or pumpkin. Folic acid is also found in soybeans, beans, red lentils, walnuts, pistachios, bananas, strawberries, oranges, animal innards and, to a high degree, yeast.

The level of folic acid in the blood can affect the fertility of a woman or a man, or its deficiency can cause complications during fertilization attempts. The effect of folic acid on pregnancy support has not been proven. However, there are expert opinions that, in the case of men, speak of a positive effect on the quality and number of sperm.

The maximum dosage of folic acid should not exceed 1000 mcg per day. The usual recommended dose of folic acid during pregnancy should be 600 to 800 mcg.

One of the main vitamins, the intake of which a woman should increase even before a planned pregnancy, is precisely folic acid (B9). Then there are other groups of vitamins, such as vitamin C, B6 or B1. The intake of minerals, calcium and iron is important. Omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for all metabolic processes in the body, are also beneficial.

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