Dietary Recommendations

The Institute of Medicine has established the following Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for folate:

Age/Gender Group Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)
Micrograms DFE* per day
Infants and Children (0-13 years) 65-300
Teenagers (14-18 years) 400
Adults (19 years+) 400
Pregnant Women** 600
Lactating Women 500

Source: Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences. Dietary Reference Intakes for Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, and Choline. National Academy Press, Washington DC, 1998.
*DFE = dietary folate equivalents.
**Women should continue to get 400 micrograms of folic acid from supplements or fortified foods until their pregnancy is confirmed and they begin prenatal care.

The U.S. Public Health Service and the Institute of Medicine recommend that all women of childbearing age consume 400 micrograms of folic acid every day, from a supplement or fortified foods, in addition to consuming food folate from a varied diet. This recommendation would also apply to teenage and younger girls who have reached menses.

Family History of NTD-Affected Pregnancy

The U.S. Public Health Service recommends that women who have had a previous pregnancy affected by a neural tube defect should see their doctor because they may need a higher amount of folic acid (4.0 milligrams or 4000 micrograms) if planning another pregnancy. Studies have shown that taking a larger dose of folic acid daily can reduce the risk of having another affected pregnancy. Women should not try to get extra folic acid by taking more than one multivitamin per day as this might lead to unhealthy intake levels of other vitamins such as vitamin A.

Woman holding a vitamin supplement

Folate, or folic acid, is a vitamin that you need every day throughout your lifetime for good health.

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