twoplus Folic Acid Supplement 101: Benefits, Side Effects And More

twoplus Folic Acid Supplement 101: Benefits, Side Effects And More

You may have heard that folic acid is important for women who are trying to conceive and expectant mothers, but why is that? Read on to find out more.

This is the one supplement you must’ve heard of whenever you speak to women who are trying to conceive, or perhaps read about on a mummy forum. But what exactly is folic acid, why is it so important for women trying to conceive and expecting mothers, and are there any side effects? 

Read on to find out all the answers to your burning folic acid questions and more. 


What is folic acid?

Simply put, folic acid is a synthetic version of vitamin B9 (aka folate). It is essential in helping your body produce and maintain new cells, and helps prevent changes to your DNA that may lead to cancer [1]. 

Folic acid also has other essential functions in the body like [2, 4, 5]:

  • Keeping your red blood cells healthy.
  • Forming DNA and RNA, and is involved in protein metabolism.  
  • Breaking down homocysteine, a harmful substance in high amounts that if left untreated increases your risks for dementia, heart disease and stroke. 

You can find folic acid in fortified food like breads and cereals, or as dietary supplements. 


Difference between folic acid and folate

Many use the terms ‘folic acid’ and ‘folate’ interchangeably, which can be confusing. This is because even though both are a form of vitamin B9, they are a little different.

Firstly, folate is natural and folic acid is synthetic. By that we mean that you can get folate by consuming whole foods like beans, peanuts, dark green leafy vegetables, etc. Folic acid, on the other hand, is mostly found in fortified foods (folic acid-enriched food) and dietary supplements [2]. 

Secondly, they also have distinct chemical structures, which causes them to react differently in the body. For example, natural folate quickly loses activity during food processing and preparation. Meanwhile, folic acid remains stable for months or years, which is why you can find it even in cereal and supplements [3]. 

Lastly, due to its chemical structure, your body can only use 25% to 50% of the folate you consume. On the other hand, 100% of folic acid consumed will be used by your body [3].


Folic acid’s role in preventing birth defects

Folic acid is one of the most important nutrients for all moms-to-be and expecting mothers. Consuming enough folic acid before and during pregnancy has shown to help proper formation of the neural tube [4]. Incomplete formation of neural tubes can cause birth defects that affect the proper formation of the brain, spine, or spinal cord [6]. 

Common birth defects include spina bifida (incomplete formation of the spinal column) and anencephaly (incomplete formation of the brain and skull) [7, 8]. These conditions are severe, and even with medical advances, a cure still hasn’t been found for them. 


When should you start taking folic acid?

As with many things in life, time is of the essence. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends daily folic acid supplementation for all pregnant women [9]. It is recommended that women who are planning to get pregnant start taking 400ug of folic acid a month before they start trying and should continue through the first trimester. 

However, your ob-gyn may recommend a higher amount of 5mg if they ascertain that you are at increased risk of having a baby with neural tube defects [10]. 


Side effects

In general, folic acid supplements are safe and well-tolerated by most people. However, some may experience some mild side effects, the most common are [11]:

  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bloating

These side effects are usually mild and easily manageable. For example, you can avoid feeling sick by taking folic acid with or right after meals. To improve appetite loss or bloating, you may want to have smaller meals during the day [11]. 

Not to mention, some medications like those for indigestion may interfere with folic acid and impair absorption [11]. If you’ve been prescribed such medication, be sure to only consume them 2 hours before or after taking folic acid.

Having said that, if you are unsure, do consult a doctor or pharmacist before implementing folic acid into your diet.



Folic acid or vitamin B9 can have harmful consequences, even if you’re not pregnant [12, 13]. 

As we have mentioned above, folic acid is crucial to forming healthy red blood cells that are responsible for carrying oxygen around the body [12]. Low folic acid levels have been associated with megaloblastic anaemia. This is a condition where red blood cells are larger than usual, and have a shorter lifespan than normal red blood cells [12]. 


Is folic acid beneficial for men too?

There is no doubt that folic acid is vital for women of reproductive age. But does my partner need to take folic acid too? The answer is no. According to recent scientific studies, folic acid supplements don't improve semen quality [14]. 

Having said that, supplementation will only be necessary if the male has a vitamin B9 deficiency.


High-folate foods

Eating right is one of the easiest ways to not only get more folate in your body but also increase your chances of pregnancy. To help you with that, we’ve compiled a list of folate-rich foods that you can easily find at your local supermarket below [2].

Food source

Folate concentration (micrograms) per serving

Liver (3 ounces)


Spinach, boiled (½ cup)


Black-eyed peas, boiled (½ cup)


Rice, cooked (½ cup)


Asparagus, boiled (4 spears)


Brussels sprout, boiled (½ cup)


Lettuce, romaine, shredded, (1 cup)


Avocado, raw, sliced, (½ cup)


Broccoli, boiled (½ cup)


Beans (½ cup)


Wheat germ


Orange (1 small)


Yeast baker’s (¼ teaspoon)


Fish (3 ounces)



Folic acid is a vital nutrient for women who are pregnant or going to start a family. It can easily be found in fortified foods or in the form of easy-to-consume capsules. Alternatively, you can also increase your folate intake by consuming certain nutrient-rich foods (see table above). 

Having healthy levels of folic acid in your body helps prevent neural tube defects in babies and keeps your blood cells healthy amongst other benefits.

An economical and easy way to include more folic acid into your diet is by taking the twoplus’ Folic Acid Fertility Support For Women. Vegan-friendly, each pill consists of 600ug of folic acid along with glucosamine. 

[1] Drugs, Folic Acid,
[2] National Institutes Of Health - Office Of Dietary Supplements, Folate, 
[3] Food And Agriculture Organisation Of The United Nations And World Health Organisation, Folate And Folic Acid, 
[4] Centres For Disease Control And Prevention, Folic Acid, 
[5] British Dietetic Association, Folic Acid: Food Fact Sheet,
[6] Medline Plus, Neural Tube Defects,
[7] Centres For Disease Control And Prevention, What Is Spina Bifida?
[8] Centres For Disease Control And Prevention, Facts About Anencephaly,
[9] World Health Organisation, Guideline: Daily Iron And Folic Acid Supplementation In Pregnant Women,;jsessionid=7D8E5760F918B07979AEBE33AAAF1F66?sequence=1 
[10] National Health Service, Vitamins, Supplements And Nutrition In Pregnancy, 
[11] National Health Service, Folic Acid, 
[12] Johns Hopkins Medicine, Folate-Deficiency Anaemia,
[13] National Health Service, Vitamin B12 Or Folate Deficiency Anaemia.
[14] Enrique F. Schisterman, Lindsey A. Sjaarda, Traci Clemons, Douglas T. Carrell, Neil J. Perkins, Erica Johnstone, Denise Lamb, Kayla Chaney, Bradley J. Van Voorhis, Ginny Ryan, Karen Summers, Jim Hotaling, Jared Robins, James L. Mills, Pauline Mendola, Zhen Chen, Elizabeth A. DeVilbiss, C. Matthew Peterson and Sunni L. Mumford, Effect Of Folic Acid And Zinc Supplementation In Men On Semen Quality And Live Birth Among Couples Undergoing Infertility Treatment,