When should I begin taking folic acid supplements if my husband and I are planning to conceive?
Start right now! Folic acid, also called folate, has been shown to prevent a common and potentially grave birth defect, spina bifida. This is a birth defect that may occur very early in pregnancy — even before a woman knows she’s pregnant. That’s why the government recommends that all women of reproductive age should consume .4 milligrams, which equals 400 micrograms, of folic acid every day.
You may be able to consume that much by eating folate-rich foods and fortified foods. But it appears that most women are not getting that much. So if you have any doubts, take a 400-microgram folic acid supplement or a vitamin/mineral tablet which contains that amount.
Once you become pregnant, you probably will be advised to double your folic acid consumption to 800 micrograms.
Best of luck in your plans to start a family!