Folic acid, or folate, is a type of vitamin B (there are eight total). Folic acid is primarily responsible for cell growth in the body, ensuring that new, healthy cells are produced.
Though folic acid is important for everyone, it is especially valuable for women who are pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant.
In 1998, the government implemented a law requiring the addition of folic acid to all grains manufactured in the U.S. in an effort to lower the incidence of birth defects.
How much you should have: Men need 400 mcg of folic acid every day. Women under the age of 50 should consume 400 mcg of food-derived folic acid as well as a 400 mcg supplement. After 50, no supplement is needed.