Folic acid, another form of which is known as folate, is one of the B vitamins. It is used as a supplement by women to prevent neural tube defects (NTDs) developing during pregnancy.
Long term supplementation is also associated with small reductions in the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease
It is on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines, the most effective and safe medicines needed in a health system.
While folates are found in foods as well as in metabolically active forms in the human body , folic acid, the more stable form, occurs rarely in nature but is the form most often used in vitamin supplements and fortified foods.