During the menstrual cycle, some women may have to increase their intake of certain vitamins and minerals to prevent deficiency or potential health risks. Mainly these vitamins and minerals are needed to replenish what's lost in a heavy menstrual bleed, but certain vitamins may be prescribed by your physician for other reasons. Folic acid is often given to women of reproductive age to reduce the risk of developmental problems in pregnancy, even if the woman does not plan on becoming pregnant.
Folic Acid Identification
Folic acid belongs to a group of vitamins called B-complex. B-complex vitamins support the growth and development of various parts of the body, which includes the brain, hormones, nerves, muscles, nails, skin, hair and blood. One of the most important B vitamins for women is folic acid, vitamin B-9. Dietary folic acid is called folate and is found in fortified cereals, bread, pasta, cornmeal and white rice.
Anemia and Folic Acid
Some women have a light to moderate menstrual flow while others may have a heavier menstrual flow. Women with heavy menstrual cycles lose more blood than normal and may have to take iron supplements to prevent anemia. In addition to taking iron supplements, some women with anemia may need to take folic acid supplements, as they may become deficient in this vitamin. Folic acid helps to manufacture red blood cells.
Folic Acid and Preconception
All women of reproductive age are required to take folic acid. Folic acid prevents major birth defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly. The daily recommended dosing of folic acid changes depending on whether you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant or breastfeeding. If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, you need 400 to 800mcg of folic acid, according to WomensHealth.gov.
Even if you do not plan to become pregnant, WomensHealth.gov recommends taking folic acid anyway. According to the website, half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned and for this reason even women who aren't planning to become pregnant should take 400 to 800mcg of folic acid per day. Prenatal vitamins and specially marked multivitamins contain folic acid. To be sure that the multivitamin contains the right amount of folic acid, look for "USP or "NSF" on the label. These acronyms show that the vitamins contain the amounts stated on the label.