Folic acid is a form of folate (a B vitamin) that is found naturally in foods such as leafy green vegetables, oranges, and beans. You can also get folate from vitamins and fortified foods, like breads, pastas, and cereals.
Everyone needs folic acid to be healthy, but it’s especially important for women before and during pregnancy because it protects unborn babies against serious birth defects. Folic acid also keeps your blood healthy by helping red blood cells form and grow, which can prevent folate-deficiency anemia. This type of anemia is more common in women of childbearing age than in men.
This tip sheet includes more information on what folic acid is, how it protects against birth defects, and how much folic acid you should take to stay healthy.