National Folic Acid Awareness Week - January 6-12. 2013
Did you know that only one-third of US women within childbearing age consume the recommended amount of folic acid in their daily diet? The CDC recommends taking a multivitamin with folic acid every day to ensure you get the daily recommended 400 mcg of folic acid.
Folic acid is a critical B-group vitamin, and the most well known vitamin for the health of pregnant mothers and unborn babies. Insufficient folic acid before and during pregnancy in expectant mothers can lead to neural tube defects as the baby develops, and proper folic acid supplementation during pregnancy has been shown to reduce the risk of neural birth defects by up to 70% (1).
It is also important to keep up on folic acid intake through fortified foods in your diet and with a supplement, due to its complex interdependent interactions with iron and B12 in your body. A deficiency in one could potentially be ‘masked’ by the abundance of one of the others. A proper folic acid, B12 and Iron balance is important for optimal health. Folic acid has the added benefit of helping reduce homocysteine levels (a stress hormone) which contributes to the risk of cardiovascular disease if elevated levels persist over time.
For more information on dietary folic acid, visit the National Council on Folic Acid (1).