How soon before conception should a woman start taking folic acid supplements?

I would like to start a family within the next 5 years and have heard about the importance of folic acid when it comes to the health of babies. I have also heard that it is good for a women in child bearing years to start taking this type of supplement. Does anyone know how long before trying to conceive, that one should be taking these? Has it really been shown that these supplements help?

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  1. Rush is a band says:

    Folic acid is a B vitamin and excess B vitamins are excreted in the urine. Unless you have a serious long term deficiency, taking folic acid really early doesn’t really help.

    The reason that women of child bearing years are told to take this type of supplement is that conception often happens when one isn’t really trying and it is very, very important to have enough folic acid very early after conception. Some women might not realize they were pregnant until 5-6 weeks after conception and the extra folic acid helps before that.

    If you are on birth control pills, I’d start the folic acid when you stopped the birth control pills… If not a month or so before you really start trying.

    Other answers are right that having enough folic acid prevents neural tube defects (of which spina bifida is one).

    From your question it looks like you were wondering if the supplements help you conceive and the answer to that would be a resounding no.

    good luck!

  2. Sophie's Mommy says:

    My doctor told me at least 2 months is what they like to see

  3. it really depends on your doctor.
    the most common i have heard was 6 months before you start trying, start to take it.

    and yes, it has been shown folic acid helps.

  4. madison4452002 says:

    You need to start taking it before you try to conceive. If you start taking it after you’ve conceived you won’t get any benefit against preventing things like spinal deformities. It has been shown that folic acid helps.

  5. Supergirl says:


    Repeated studies have shown that women who get 400 micrograms (0.4 milligrams) daily prior to conception and during early pregnancy reduce the risk that their baby will be born with a serious neural tube defect such as Spina Bifida by up to 70%.

    Any woman who is of child bearing age and who could get pregnant should be taking Folic Acid supplements as the defects occur within the first 28 days of pregnancy.

    I hope this helps.

  6. clickmick says:

    If you are planning on getting pregnant, you can start taking folic acid before you conceive. You can take a pre-natal vitamin before you are pregnant. It has the recommended amount of folic acid and the other vitamins and minerals you need during pregnancy. You can even take a pre-natal vitamin everyday even if you aren’t going to get pregnant. Pre-natal vitamins are about the same as a regular multi-vitamin. I have heard that pre-natal vitamins help your fingernails and hair grow. You can also find out which foods have high amounts of folic acid. Alot of cereals have folic acid. Yes, folic acid is important to take before, during and after pregnancy, especially if you are going to breast feed.

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