(also known as vitamin B9 or folate) is one of the few nutrients known to
prevent neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida, which affects about
one in 1,000 pregnancies each year in the United States. The Centers for
Disease Control report that women who take the recommended daily dose of
folic acid starting one month before they conceive and throughout the first
trimester reduce their baby's risk of birth defects such as spina bifida by
up to 70 percent.*
This alone is reason enough to make sure you take folic acid before you get
pregnant and during pregnancy, but there may even be other benefits as
well. Some studies have shown that women who don't get enough folic acid
may increase their risk of miscarriage, as well as cleft lip and palate,
limb defects, and certain types of heart defects in their babies.*
Folic acid is a B vitamin. Folic acid helps the body make healthy new
cells. Health starts with the individual cells of our body. If our cells
are healthy so are we. Healthy cells, in turn, depend on the continued,
faultless replication of our DNA. DNA can be seriously damaged through
attacks by free radicals so an adequate antioxidant status is essential to
cell health. However, it is becoming clear that antioxidants alone are not
enough to protect our DNA; more and more research points to the B vitamin
folic acid as being equally or perhaps even more important in ensuring
proper DNA replication. It is not surprising that a folic acid deficiency
has been implicated in a wide variety of disorders from Alzheimer's disease
to atherosclerosis, heart attack, stroke, osteoporosis, cervical and colon
cancer, depression, dementia, cleft lip and palate, hearing loss, and of
course, neural tube defects.*
Looking for Methyl Folate:
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It is, unfortunately, estimated that 88 percent of all North Americans
suffer from a folic acid deficiency. Obviously, the standard diet does not
supply what we need. This has led to the fortification of cereals and other
foodstuffs to try to ensure a minimum daily intake of 0.4 mg/day. Although
beans and green vegetables like spinach and kale are good sources of folic
acid, relatively few people eat lots of vegetables and cooking destroys
most of the Folate anyway. Realizing the poor availability of the diet
many medical researchers now advocate daily supplementation with folic
acid. Because folic acid needs the catalysts vitamins B12 and B6 to carry
out its functions effectively it is usual to supplement with a combination
of the three. Dosage recommendations for folic acid vary between 0.4 mg/day
and 10 mg/day or more depending on the severity of the deficiency and the
health problem to be overcome. The RDA for adults is now 0.4 mg/day and 0.6
mg/day for pregnant women. Recommendations for vitamin B12 generally range
from 0.5 to 1.0 mg/day and for vitamin-B6 from 10 to 250 mg/day.*
Supplementation with folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12 costs only pennies
a day and yet it is indeed hard to imagine an investment that would pay
greater dividends in protecting your health.
Your body needs this nutrient for the production, repair, and functioning
of DNA, our genetic map and a basic building block of cells, so getting
enough is particularly important for the rapid cell growth that occurs
during pregnancy. Folate is also required for a complex metabolic process
that involves the conversion of one amino acid in your blood (homocysteine)
into another amino acid (methionine). If you don't get enough folate, you
can end up with too much homocysteine in your blood, which is thought to
contribute to some birth defects. Elevated levels of homocysteine in
pregnancy also have been linked to blood clots, placental abruption,
recurrent miscarriages, and stillbirth. Researchers are trying to find out
whether taking folic acid throughout pregnancy decreases your risk for
these problems. Finally, folate helps make normal red blood cells, prevents
anemia, and produces the nervous system chemicals norepinephrine and
Why should women take folic acid?
All women need folic acid. When a woman has enough folic acid before and
during pregnancy, it can help prevent major birth defects of her baby’s
brain or spine.*
Be sure to get enough folic acid every day. Start before you are pregnant.
Folic acid is needed during the first few weeks, often before a woman knows
she is pregnant. And half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are not planned.
That is why it’s so important to start taking folic acid each day, even
when you are not planning to get pregnant.*
Folic acid might also have other benefits for men and women of any age.
Some studies show that folic acid might help prevent heart disease, stroke,
some cancers, and possibly Alzheimer’s disease.*
Most people in the United States have an adequate dietary intake of folic
acid because it is plentiful in the food supply.
The other way and of course the most efficient way is through supplementation.
LifeSource Vitamins - Folic acid (also known as vitamin B9 or folate) is
one of the few nutrients known to prevent neural tube birth defects such as Spina Bifida, which affects about one in 1,000 pregnancies each year in the
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