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Folic acid (folates)

Folic acid, one of the B vitamins, is important for the normal development of an unborn child (fetus). Folic acid and its closely related compounds, folates, are needed for the production of red and white blood cells and platelets, the formation of genetic material (DNA) in cells, and growth.

Only a small amount of folic acid is stored in the body. So to avoid a deficiency, you must get folic acid regularly from food or folic acid supplements. Folate, the natural form of folic acid, is found in foods such as liver, leafy green vegetables, beans, oranges, and eggs. It is also found in grains enriched with folic acid.

Taking supplements of folic acid before and during pregnancy can reduce the chance of having a baby with birth defects, such as spina bifida.