U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


Get Enough Folic Acid

The Basics

Women of childbearing age (typically ages 11 to 49) need an extra 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day. Folic acid is found in vitamins and foods like breakfast cereals that have 100% DV (Daily Value) of folic acid.

Why is folic acid important?
Everyone needs folic acid, but it’s especially important for women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant. Folic acid is a vitamin that can prevent birth defects.

Getting enough folic acid is important even when you aren’t planning to get pregnant. It’s needed during the first few weeks of pregnancy, often before a woman knows she’s pregnant.

How can I get enough folic acid?
There are 2 easy ways to get enough folic acid every day:


  • Take a vitamin with folic acid. You can take a small pill that has only folic acid or take a multivitamin. Vitamins and folic acid pills can be found at most pharmacies and grocery stores.

Talk with your doctor about folic acid.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, your doctor can help you figure out how much folic acid is right for you. You may need more folic acid if you have a health condition or are taking certain medicines.

Take Action!

Take Action!

It’s easy to get the folic acid you need. Just eat a bowl of cereal with 100% DV of folic acid – or take a vitamin – every day.

Check the label.
When you are at the grocery store, find foods with folic acid in them. Look for cereals that have 100% DV of folic acid.

Folic acid is also in foods like enriched breads, pastas, and other foods made with grains. Check the Nutrition Facts label.

If you buy vitamins, be sure to check the label for folic acid. This label shows a vitamin with 100% DV of folic acid.

nutrition label with folic acid highlighted


If you take a vitamin, make it easy to remember.

  • Take it at the same time every day. For example, take it when you brush your teeth in the morning or when you eat breakfast.
  • Leave the vitamin bottle somewhere you will notice it every day, like on the kitchen counter.

What about cost?
Folic acid supplements (pills) are covered under the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform law passed in 2010. Depending on your insurance plan, you may be able to get folic acid supplements at no cost to you.

Talk to your insurance company to find out what this means for you. For information about other services covered by the Affordable Care Act, visit HealthCare.gov.

Eat healthy.
A healthy diet includes foods with folate (a different type of folic acid). In addition to eating cereal that has 100% DV of folic acid or taking a vitamin, it’s important for women to eat foods with folate, such as:

  • Spinach and other leafy greens
  • Oranges and orange juice
  • Beans and peas

Check out this list of foods with folate.

Expand to Full Page

Start Today: Small Steps