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Folic Acid Awareness Week

Posted by on January 9th, 2018 Posted in: Blog, Public Health

“Folic Acid” via medlineplus.gov, October 16, 2017, public domain.

January 7th through January 13th is Folic Acid Awareness week.  What is folic acid and what should we be aware of?

Medlineplus.gov defines Folic acid as “a B vitamin. It helps the body make healthy new cells. Everyone needs folic acid.”  Folic acid is especially important for women who are pregnant or are trying to get pregnant.  The Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says, “Folic acid protects unborn babies against serious birth defects.”  It is recommended that women get 400 mcg of folic acid daily.

The potential for birth defects as a result of folic acid deficiency is serious.  CDC statistics show that every year in the United States we see the following:

  • There are 3,000 pregnancies affected by spina bifida or anencephaly, which are neural tube defects (NTDs) caused by the incomplete closing of the spine and skull.
  • About 1,300 babies are born without a neural tube defect since folic acid fortification.
  • Many, but not all, neural tube defects could be prevented if women took 400 mcg of folic acid daily, before and during early pregnancy.
  • Half of all pregnancies are unplanned.

Folic acid can be found in food such as leafy green vegetables, fruits, dried beans, peas and nuts.  It can also be obtained by consuming enriched breads, cereals and other grain products.  Those that do not get sufficient folic acid from their diet can take a dietary supplement.

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