In the United States, federal laws require enriching cereal, flour and other grain products with folic acid. Foods high in the natural form of the folic acid B-vitamin, folate, include leafy green vegetables, dried peas and beans, organ meats and fruits. Some enriched breakfast cereals contain 400 micrograms of folic acid, which is 100 percent of the recommended daily allowance. People who do not get enough of this B-vitamin may benefit from folic acid supplements.
Both men and women need folic acid; however, it is especially for women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant. Folic acid prevents major birth defects that affect the baby's brain and spine. Most multivitamins available in the United States include the recommended daily allowance of folic acid.
Folic acid helps the body in developing new cells. The body uses it in forming new hair, skin and nails daily. It also forms new cells that replace older, dying cells. Some people have low levels of folic acid due to the inability of the bowel to absorb the nutrient. Alcoholism, ulcerative colitis, kidney dialysis and liver disease are potential causes of low levels of folic acid in the body, and patients with these conditions can benefit from folic acid supplements along with dietary changes.