OB-GYN (Obstetrician-Gynecologist) Questions Folic Acid

If I am planning to conceive by next year should I start folic acid tablets?

I wish to start my family by this year end or early next year after we are settled financially. When would be a good time to start on folic acid tablets?

10 Answers

You should start 3 months before you start planning conception
3 months prior start folic acid
Yes, the longer you're on, the better.
Start it now it doesn’t hurt
6 months before planning a pregnancy.
Folic acid is part of the Vitamin B family and taking B Vitamins is always good for stress relief and to support your adrenals. In addition, Folic acid is a building block of your DNA, thus it helps with cellular turnover in every part of your body. Since our body literally turns itself over in tissues as little as every 7days and in our red blood cells and bone marrow every 120days, we literally ‘reinvent’ ourselves on a regular basis. So when you are thinking of conceiving, having a good building block for building good DNA is a smart idea, especially if you have any irregularity to your cycles. The recommended dose is 1mg or 1,000ng of folic acid; however, the best folic acid is methylfolate. The methyl helps the body most efficiently do it’s job in your body and since your body will benefit whether you are trying to conceive or not, it’s always a good idea. Folic acid is a water soluble supplement, meaning that it reaches many parts of your body quite easily and you excrete out the extra that your body doesn’t need in your ‘water’ or through your kidneys. Patients who have a family history of spina bifida or ‘open spine’ are even encouraged to take up to 4mg or 4,000ng of folic acid daily and to start up to 3-6months ahead of trying to conceive. So to answer your questions, yes it is always a good idea to start folic acid, especially methyl folic acid up to 3months before trying for conception to give your baby the best ‘pre-nutrition’ that you can.

One last tidbit; folic acid is also recommended when patients have an abnormal Pap smear as it is involved in cellular turnover and the cervix is certainly turning over cells on a regular basis. So if you have an ASCUS (Atypical Squamous Cells of Undetermined Significance) or even a mild dysplasia/CIN-1 (Cellular Intraepithelial Neoplasia-1), then taking Folic acid daily can help you reverse your Pap smear back to negative!
I recommend that my patients start prenatal vitamins, which contain folic acid and are available over the counter approximately 1 month prior to beginning to attempt conception.
You can start folic acid supplements anytime, especially if you have a mutation of one of the genes that activates folic acid, which is quite common. The only concern with a mutation is that you may need to take a slightly higher dose of folate and may need the activated form L-5 MTHF, which you can purchase in most vitamin shops. Folic acid is important before conception to reduce neural tube defects. The usual dose in pregnancy is 1mg daily, the RDA in non-pregnancy is .4mg. There is a simple lab test that will check for this mutation. Check with your insurance company first to make sure they will cover this.
Start now. It's best to be on them as early as possible so that if you conceive unexpectedly, your developing embryo will have the benefit of folate, which helps prevent neural tube defects.
Folic acid is used to prevent birth defects such as spina bifida. You can start the Folic acid any time, but at least by 30 days before you try to conceive. Most prenatal vitamins have 800mcg folic acid in them.