Vitamin B9 (folic acid) is an important part in everybody’s diet, but it is particularly important for women who are planning to become pregnant and those who are pregnant. Women in either situation need to put folic acid at the top of their nutrient checklist and ensure that they are regularly taking pre-natal vitamins as well as eating foods that are high in vitamin B9.Vitamin B9 is the raw material used in red blood cell production as well as the hormones norepinephrine and serotonin. These two hormones are important chemical components in the nervous system. Folic acid is also used in cell production and maintenance. Conception and pregnancy involve rapid cell production and thus increases the importance of this vitamin.Folic acid is one of the few vitamins that is known to prevent birth defects involving the neural tube. The neural tube develops in the fetus and when folic acid is not available in adequate amounts, birth defects such as spina bifida result. It is estimated that spina bifida results in one in every 1,000 births in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that when women take in the recommended daily allowance of folic acid can reduce their baby’s risk of certain birth defects by approximately 50%. Many doctors advise women to take at least 4 mg (400 micrograms) of folic acid on a daily basis and that they begin taking this amount about a month before conception when possible and to continue through the first three months of pregnancy as well as throughout pregnancy. It is the first three months, however, when the neural tube is developed and folic acid is particularly important. Unfortunately, many women do not even realize that they are pregnant before this time.There are various foods that women can eat to help ensure they receive adequate amounts of folic acid. Foods such as asparagus, spinach, broccoli, eggs, canned salmon, wheat germ, and lentils contain high amounts of folic acid. The FDA also requires that food manufacturers fortify grain products with folic acid as well, so women can eat flour, pasta and rice to their diet to get even more folic acid. Because vitamin B9 is a water-soluble vitamin, the body will flush out unnecessary folic acid, so you don’t need to be concerned about getting too much.