US Government Recommendation Is Clear: Folic Acid Supplements Are Needed for a Healthy Pregnancy

Washington, D.C., January 10, 2017In response to a recommendation statement from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, “Folic Acid Supplementation for the Prevention of Neural Tube Defects,” published online today in JAMA, the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the leading trade association for the dietary supplement and functional food industry, issued the following statement:


Statement by Duffy MacKay, N.D., senior vice president, scientific & regulatory affairs, CRN: 

“Folic acid supplementation is proven to prevent neural tube birth defects in babies, and we commend the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) for its continued recommendation that all women of child-bearing age supplement with folic acid to avoid experiencing this devastating birth defect. Specifically, the USPSTF recommendation calls for all women who are planning a pregnancy or are capable of becoming pregnant to supplement with 0.4 to 0.8 mg of folic acid. This amount is typically found in multivitamins and pre-natal vitamins and consumers should check labels and talk with their healthcare practitioner to ensure they’re getting the right amount.

Even in the era of food fortification, essential nutrients needed for optimal health are not always easily attained through diet alone, something acknowledged in the USPSTF report. Government data have repeatedly validated that there is ‘considerable room for improvement in the use of folic acid supplements across the population of reproductive-age women,’ as stated in the accompanying editorial published in JAMA Pediatrics. Thus, we hope that this recommendation, which is supported by reputable institutions, such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, is taken under serious consideration and adhered to for the health and wellbeing of our nation’s future generations.

With this strong recommendation for folic acid supplements, the next logical step is to include multivitamins with folic acid within all government nutrition programs, including Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs (SNAP). This will ensure that reproductive-age women looking to the government for nutritional assistance will have access to the protective effects of folic acid during pregnancy. Low-income mothers should have the choice to use their SNAP benefits to purchase a multivitamin with folic acid. Furthermore, a multivitamin provides other nutrients, such as iodine, that are critical for a healthy pregnancy.”

Note to Editor: The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), founded in 1973, is a Washington, D.C.-based trade association representing 150+ dietary supplement and functional food manufacturers, ingredient suppliers, and companies providing services to those manufacturers and suppliers. In addition to complying with a host of federal and state regulations governing dietary supplements and food in the areas of manufacturing, marketing, quality control and safety, our manufacturer and supplier members also agree to adhere to additional voluntary guidelines as well as to CRN’s Code of Ethics. Visit Follow us on Twitter @crn_supplements and @wannabewell and on Facebook.