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Health note: Folic Acid Awareness Week
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Posted on Mon, Jan 11, 2016
National Folic Acid Awareness Week
January 3 – 9, 2016
Bowling Green, OH - January 3-9 is Folic Acid Awareness Week, but folic acid should be a part of a healthy lifestyle every day of the week. For women in their childbearing years, it is particularly important to consume 400 mcg of folic acid daily. It has been shown to reduce the risk of Neural Tube Defects in developing babies by up to 70 percent. Since half of pregnancies are unplanned, it’s important to take folic acid every day, even if you’re not planning to get pregnant. The most common NTDs are spina bifida and anencephaly.
“Wood County Health District works to educate consumers about the benefits of folic acid through our Women Infants and Children (WIC) program and through our Community Health and Wellness Center. Women should take a daily multivitamin with 400 mcg of folic acid, along with a healthy diet,” recommends Caroline Strzesynski, Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner at the Wood County Community Health and Wellness Center.
What is folic acid and why do you need it?
Think you are getting all of the vitamins you need from your diet alone? Think again.
“Most people do not know that it is hard to get certain vitamins from food alone. Many believe they do not need to take multivitamins because they eat healthy foods. Multivitamins help fill in those nutrition gaps in the diet, especially when it comes to getting enough folic acid,” said Chris Huth, WIC Manager.
Folic acid is the synthetic form of the naturally occurring folate in foods. Folate is found in foods such as leafy green vegetables, beans, liver and some fruit. The synthetic version, folic acid, is found in multivitamins and fortified foods like breakfast cereal, pasta and bread. Folic acid is easier for your body to absorb than folate, plus 50 to 90 percent of food folate is destroyed in cooking
Folic acid is an essential B-vitamin; therefore, everyone needs it in order to stay in good health. Folic acid helps build DNA and your body uses it for cell growth and reproduction, fundamental building block processing and genetic material production.
In 1998, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration started fortifying grain and cereal products with folic acid in order to reduce neural tube defects (NTDs). While this was a great step in the fight to prevent birth defects, it is not enough to protect all women and their potential children.
Who needs folic acid?
Everyone needs folic acid every day. Taking folic acid every day, before pregnancy begins, is an important way to reduce neural tube defects (NTDs). These birth defects occur in the first weeks of fetal development, often before a woman even knows she is pregnant.
Some women may be at higher risk. Not only do Hispanic women have higher rates of NTD-affected pregnancies, but they also have the lowest awareness/knowledge about folic acid than women of other race/ethnic groups. In addition, Hispanic women have a lower consumption of folic acid than non-Hispanic women.
Join Folic Acid Awareness Week
People who are interested in joining the effort should tell their friends and families about the importance of folic acid. More information about folic acid is available at http://www.cdc.gov/folicacid
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