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Taking folic acid and vitamin D

Folic acid and vitamin D are supplements that we know help when you are thinking of becoming pregnant and keep you healthy during your pregnancy.

Folic acid

Folic acid helps prevent birth defects known as neural tube defects which can cause conditions such as spina bifida.

You should take 400 micrograms of folic acid each day when you are trying to get pregnant and continue up to the 12th week of your pregnancy.

Some women have an increased risk of having a baby with a neural tube defect and need to increase their dose to 5 milligrams. You are at increased risk if:

  • you or your partner have a neural tube defect such as spina bifida

  • you have had a previous pregnancy affected by a neural tube defect

  • there is a history of neural tube defects in your family or your partner’s family

  • you have diabetes.

You may also need to take a higher dose of folic acid if you are taking medication for epilepsy.

If any of this applies to you, talk to your GP and they can prescribe the higher dose you need.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is very important for you and your baby. It helps your bodies to absorb calcium, which is essential for keeping bones healthy throughout life. Vitamin D helps to make sure the bones and teeth of both you and your child become and remain strong.

Who should take vitamin D supplements?

For pregnant women, new mums and children under four, extra vitamin D is required for healthy bones.

Therefore it is important to take supplements containing the recommended amount even if you think you are getting enough daily sun exposure.

Pregnant women and new mums should take tablets containing 10 micrograms (µg) of vitamin D. Children should take drops for children containing 7.5 micrograms (µg) of vitamin D.

The Lewisham Free D scheme

All pregnant women, new mums and children under four can get free vitamin D supplements through the Free D scheme supported by us and the local NHS.

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