A vitamin critical to the normal development of the fetus. Inadequate folic acid intake can lead to neural tube defects (NTDs) such as spina bifida and malformation of the brain. Consumption of 0.4 mg per day is recommended before conception and throughout pregnancy, especially the first trimester. Some women may require even larger amounts of folic acid if they are in high risk situations such as having had a previous child with a NTD. Taking folic acid is one of the best ways to minimize the risk that your child will have a birth defect.