Give Your Body a Jumpstart
The First Week of January is Folic Acid Awareness Week
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urges all women of reproductive age to take 400 micrograms (mcg.) of folic acid each day in addition to consuming food rich in folate to help prevent some major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine.
According to Clinical Nutrition Manager Debra Schumer, MA, RD, LD, at Saint Francis Healthcare System’s Nutrition Services, folate is found mainly in dark, leafy green vegetables, beans, peas and nuts. Fruits that contain high levels of folate include oranges, lemons, bananas, melons and strawberries.
Schumer adds, “Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate, also called vitamin B9. It is fortified in most cereals and pastas as well as a vital component of prenatal vitamins and many multivitamins.”
Folic acid helps your body produce and maintain new cells and also helps prevent changes to DNA that may lead to cancer. As a medication, folic acid is used to certain types of anemia (lack of red blood cells) caused by folic acid deficiency.
The symptoms of anemia that can occur due to the lack of folate include:
- persistent fatigue
- pale skin
- shortness of breath
Who Should Take Folic Acid?
If you are planning on starting a family, getting 400 mcg. of folic acid every day at least a month before becoming pregnant is important. Continue to take a prenatal vitamin throughout your pregnancy or as directed by your physician.
Not planning on starting a family? Forty percent of pregnancies across the globe are unplanned. Taking folic acid if you are a woman and not pregnant helps ensure you have adequate levels of folate for a developing fetus before you find out you are pregnant.
Give your vitamin intake a boost with this healthy, folate-filled smoothie:
Recipe: Mango Madness Smoothie
Combine the following in a blender with ice and enjoy!
- 1 small banana
- ½ cup mango
- ½ cup pineapple chunks
- ¾ cup orange juice