Folate is important for your overall health, however, folate is most important during pregnancy due to the role in plays in growth and development of the brain and spinal cord, as well as the role in plays in the development of DNA.

Let’s discuss how folate plays a role in developing the neural tube.

Folate plays a role in developing the neural tube

Folate is an essential vitamin for ensuring healthy growth and development in the fetus. Folate and folic acid have been proven to prevent neural tube defects, such as spina bifida and anencephaly, which are defects that can affect the brain or the spine.

It is recommended that women who are sexually active and who are of child-bearing age take a daily folic acid supplement.

For women who are trying to get pregnant and have been previously affected by neural tube defects, there is a recommendation to increase your daily dose of folic acid.

Safety of supplements in pregnancy

Talk to your doctor about the prenatal vitamins and supplements that are right for you. Some prenatal vitamins can cause nausea in pregnant women, if that happens you should talk to your doctor or nurse, they may be able to recommend chewable or liquid vitamins.

The NHS advise that you should not take vitamin A supplements or any supplements containing vitamin A (retinol), as too much of this could harm your baby. You should also avoid liver and liver products (including fish liver oil) as they are high in vitamin A. Always check the label, and if you have any concerns you should talk to your doctor.

There are a number of reasons that taking folate is important during pregnancy. These are just a small selection of the total number of reasons that folate is important during pregnancy.

Want to learn more about folate? Find out more about what causes low folate.

Want to find out how you can check your folate levels from the comfort of home? Visit to find out more about our at home folate test.

Written by Hannah Kingston | Medically Reviewed by Gwen Murphy, PhD, MPH