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Health Tip: The Importance of Folic Acid

It can help prevent birth defects

(HealthDay News) -- Folic acid is particularly important for pregnant women, and should be taken, if possible, beginning at least three months before they become pregnant.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says this B vitamin can reduce the risk of major birth defects affecting the spine and brain by as much as 70 percent.

Women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily. It can be contained within a multivitamin, or as a separate supplement.

Women also can get folic acid in fortified breakfast cereal. Just make sure the cereal has 100 percent of the recommended daily amount.

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