Why is folic acid important to take at around conception?

Folic acid (also known as folate) is an essential part of a diet. It is required for the production of red blood cells and immunity. There is now conclusive evidence that in areas where there is relative dietary deficiency of folic acid, neural tube defects (for example spina bifida) are more common, and that by giving folic acid supplements, the risk of neural tube defects is reduced. Folic acid is quite safe, taken daily a s a tablet, and is therefore advised for anyone planning a pregnancy. Those women who have had a pregnancy previously affected by neural tube defect should take a higher dose of folic acid for three months before planning pregnancy, until the end of the first trimester of pregnancy.
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