It’s Folic Acid Awareness Week. Wear a green customized ribbon pin to represent this important week. Observe Folic Acid Awareness Week in January.
Why is Folic Acid Necessary?
Folic acid is a B-vitamin that is necessary for proper cell growth. If taken before and during early pregnancy, folic acid can prevent up to 70% of some serious birth defects of the brain and spine. These are called neural tube defects. People who are pregnant or might become pregnant take folic acid to prevent serious birth defects. Birth defects include spina bifida. Depression, stroke, and decline in memory and thinking skills also benefit from taking folic acid.
The CDC and the U.S. Public Health Service recommend that all women between the ages of 15 and 45 consume 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid daily. This helps prevent two types of neural tube defects, spina bifida and anencephaly. Since these birth defects develop within the first few weeks of pregnancy, it is important to have enough folic acid in your body BEFORE becoming pregnant. And once pregnancy, it is important to continue getting enough folic acid during early pregnancy. Women need folic acid even if they are not planning to become pregnant since almost half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned.
Eat a Diet Rich in Folate
In addition to getting 400 mcg of folic acid from supplements and fortified foods, it is important to eat a diet rich in folate. Folate is a form of the B vitamin folic acid. Leafy, dark green vegetables, citrus fruits and juices, and beans contain folate in food form.
Hispanic babies are more likely than others in the U.S. to be born with a neural tube defect. The CDC reports that Latinas in the U.S. consume less folic acid and have the least knowledge about folic acid than non-Hispanic women.
(Content: nbdpn.org Image: livingwell.borgess.com)
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