MEMPHIS, Tenn. — According to the CDC, about half of U.S. pregnancies are unplanned, and major birth defects to a baby's spine or brain happen very early and before the mother knows that she is pregnant.
That is why experts say that it is essential for women of childbearing age to get a daily dose of folic acid.
It is recommended that women get 400mg every day, especially before getting pregnant.
"Folic acid is important for women of childbearing age because it helps with the development of what's called the neural tube, which is what develops into the vertebrae, spinal cords, gall and brain and it helps that form properly. And that closes during the development around the fifth or sixth week of pregnancy, which is oftentimes before women even realize they're pregnant. So that's why supplementing your diet with extra folic acid, even before becoming pregnant or knowing that you're pregnant is very important," said Dr. Cleeton, OBGYN at St. Francis Hospital-Memphis.
Nutritionists say that you can get folic acid from dark, leafy greens like spinach, but health experts say that the easiest way to get your daily amount is through a daily multi-vitamin.