Get the Facts About Folate
critical to maintaining good health. The body needs it to make new
cells. Up to 75 percent of serious birth defects of the spine and brain
could be prevented if women consumed adequate daily amounts of folate
in their diets, especially in the critical months before pregnancy,
according to the American Dietetic Association (ADA)
studies indicate folate — and its synthetic form, folic acid
— may play a part in preventing coronary heart disease. A panel
of leading scientists from universities in the United States and Great
Britain, after reviewing three decades of research studies on folate,
recently concluded: “The scientific evidence suggests folic acid,
vitamin B12 and vitamin B6 help promote a healthy heart.”
The Good News
sufficient quantities of folate is easy, according to ADA. Citrus
fruits and juices are high in folate; so are leafy green vegetables
such as spinach and romaine lettuce; wheat germ, fortified cereals and
pinto, navy and kidney beans.
Since 1998, the federal government has required bread, cereal, pasta, flour, crackers and rice to be fortified with folic acid.
The Bad News
folate’s benefits and availability in many foods, many women
— of childbearing age in particular — fail to consume
adequate quantities of folate and do not take folic acid supplements,
according to several studies.
All women of
childbearing age should consume 400 micrograms of folate each day, but
the average intake by American women is barely half that amount,
according to the National Academy of Sciences.
people, especially women, have much to learn about folate and its
crucial role in preventing birth defects and promoting overall
health,” said Edith Hogan, registered dietitian and spokeswoman
“Folate consumption is a recipe for wellness,” said Hogan.
are a woman between the ages of 14 and 50 and it’s even slightly
possible you’ll get pregnant, make sure you include plenty of
folic acid in your eating plan,” Hogan stressed.
For more information, visit ADA at www.eatright.org.