Folic acid requirements during pregnancy

Medical professionals recommend that women take a folic acid supplement in addition to eating a regular healthy diet both before and during pregnancy. Total recommended intake of folic acid is between 400 ug (0.4 mg) and 600 ug (0.6 mg) per day.1 Women who follow these guidelines are less likely to have babies with certain birth defects, especially neural tube defects.

Women who have had a previous pregnancy with a neural tube defect have an increased need for folic acid, and experts recommend they take a higher dose—4000 mcg (4 mg)—during pregnancy.2


  1. Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine (2008). Dietary reference intakes (DRIs): Recommended intakes for individuals, vitamins. In LK Mahan, S Escott-Stump, eds., Krause's Food and Nutrition Therapy, 12th ed. St Louis: Saunders Elsevier.
  2. Group Health Cooperative (2001). Recommendation: Folate. In Nutrition Guideline, DP-1048, pp. 10–29. Seattle: Group Health Cooperative.

Last Updated: December 23, 2008

Author: Caroline Rea, RN, BS, MS

Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Brian Leber, MDCM, FRCPC - Hematology

related physicians

related services

Bon Secours International| Sisters of Bon Secours USA| Bon Secours Health System

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Privacy Policy. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2010 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.