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Alli Walsh, Social Media Strategist
The National Birth Defects Prevention Network promoted Folic Acid Awareness Week, January 6-10, 2016, in an effort to raise awareness of consuming enough folic acid. For women of childbearing age, getting the recommended dosage of 400 micrograms (mcg) every day should be an easy-to-keep New Year’s resolution.
Folic acid is an essential B vitamin that plays a vital role in cell growth and reproduction, including using and creating proteins and forming new blood cells. Studies suggest that having enough folic acid is linked to preventing heart disease, Alzheimer’s, depression, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. Everyone, including men, needs enough folic acid to stay healthy. This is particularly true for women of childbearing age, even if they don’t plan to get pregnant, since around 50 percent of pregnancies in the United States are unplanned. Women who take 400 mcg of folic acid daily reduce their risk of having a baby with neural tube defects (NTDs) by 70 percent. The most common NTDs are spina bifida and anencephaly.
Folate is the naturally occurring form of the vitamin. Leafy greens, vegetables, beans, liver and some fruit all contain folate, but cooking kills 50-90 percent of the folate in food.The synthetic form of the vitamin, folic acid, is easier for your body to absorb than folate. In 1998, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration began to fortify grain products with folic acid. Despite the government’s efforts, most people still do not get 400 mcg per day.Multivitamins containing folic acid help fill in nutrition gaps and ensure that prospective mothers are getting enough in their diet.
Babies in their earliest development whose mothers are folic-acid-deficient are most at risk for developing NTDs. These defects occur in the first few weeks of fetal development, often before a woman even knows she’s pregnant. Therefore, it’s important that mothers get enough folic acid every day before and during pregnancy.Latina women suffer higher rates of NTD-affected pregnancies because they consume less folic acid than non-Latina women. They also have the lowest awareness about the nutrient’s importance.
If you are concerned you are not getting enough folic acid daily, consider taking a multivitamin. Consult with your physician first, and ask for a multivitamin recommendation. Also, consider raising awareness of decreasing NTDs by sharing this information with women in your life who may not be getting enough folic acid.
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Combined Insurance Company of America (Chicago, IL Illinois) is a leading provider of individual supplemental accident, disability, health, and life insurance products and a Chubb company. With a tradition of nearly 100 years of success, we have an A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau and are one of Ward’s Top 50® Performing Life-Health Insurance Companies. Combined Insurance is also the number one Military Friendly® Employer in the over $1B revenue category for 2019 by VIQTORY. This is the company’s eighth consecutive year on the top 10 list and fifth consecutive year in the top 5—Combined Insurance was previously named the number one Military Friendly® Employer in the nation for 2015 and 2016. In New York, products are underwritten by Combined Life Insurance Company of New York (Latham, NY).
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