Mind and Body: Women should consume folic acid daily

Jan. 6-12 is Folic Acid Awareness Week.

Folic acid is a B-vitamin necessary for proper cell growth.

If taken before and during early pregnancy, folic acid can prevent up to 70 percent of some serious birth defects of the brain and spine, called neural tube defects.

The CDC and the U.S. Public Health Service recommend all women between the ages of 15 and 45 consume 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid daily to 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 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.

Although all enriched cereals and grain products in the U.S. are fortified with the B vitamin folic acid, only one-third of U.S. women of childbearing age get the recommended amount from their diet.

Taking a multivitamin with folic acid every day is the easiest way that women can get the recommended amount of 400 mcg.

It is also important to eat a diet rich in folate, which is a form of folic acid.

It is found naturally in some foods, such as leafy, dark green vegetables, citrus fruits and juices, and beans.

Hispanic babies are more likely than others in the U.S. to be born with a neural tube defect.

The CDC reports Latinas in the U.S. consume less folic acid and have the least knowledge about folic acid than non-Hispanic women.

To learn more about folic acid and how to prevent birth defects, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov/folicacid or call 1-800-232-4636 (CDC-INFO).

If you are pregnant, recently had a baby, are breastfeeding or have a child younger than 5 years of age, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) could help you.

WIC provides:

— nutrition education and services;

— breastfeeding promotion and education;

— a monthly food prescription of nutritious foods; and

— access to health-care services.

The WIC program saves lives and improves the health of nutritionally at-risk women, infants and children.

Research has shown the WIC Program has been playing an important role in improving birth outcomes and containing health care costs.

For more information about the WIC program, call 744-4482. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Clark County Health Department supports families through a variety of programming and services, including: Nutrition Therapy, family planning, immunizations, WIC, HANDS, community education events, Cooper Clayton smoking cessation, etc.

For more information on the department’s services, call 744-4482 or visit www.clarkhealthdept.org. You can also like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Article info taken from: www.cdc.gov and www.chfs.ky.gov.