Folic acid is important for making blood and building cells. It is also called folate or folacin. Folic acid is found in many food groups in the Food Guide Pyramid. Plant foods like leafy greens, broccoli, corn and whole grains are good sources of folacin. Cowpeas, lentils, kidney and navy beans are good sources, too. Some meat and milk products like eggs, liver, nuts, cheese, and milk are also ways to get this vitamin.
The need for folic acid increases during pregnancy because the fetus is constantly growing. If a pregnant woman does not get all the folic acid she and her baby need early in her pregnancy, the fetus will not develop properly. These babies may become deformed. Supplements with folic acid are usually given to pregnant women. Women who use oral contraceptives may also need extra folate.