One of nature’s own could help cut down on the number of birth defects in babies born each year. Folic acid has been found to be an important part of a woman’s diet while pregnant, or when thinking of becoming pregnant. Recent studies have shown that at least 1,000 babies out of 3,000 born with serious birth defects each year could have been prevented if the mother would have gotten enough folic acid before and during pregnancies. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says women who are pregnant, or thinking of getting pregnant, should take at least 400 micrograms of Folic Acid per day. By taking that amount of folic acid, birth defects in babies can be reduced by as much as 50 percent to 70 percent, according to the CDC.
“There are two ways women can make sure they are receiving the recommended amount of folic acid daily,” says Audrain County Health Department Administrator Sandra Hewlett. “One way is to take a vitamin that contains the recommended dosage. The second is to eat a breakfast cereal every day that says on its label it contains 100 percent of the recommended daily value.”
Hewlett says there are other foods that offer high amounts of folic acid. “Those foods include leafy greens, lentils, citrus, asparagus, kidney beans, and broccoli,” she said. “Also, tomato juice, avocados, and sunflower seeds contain high amounts of folic acid.”
Hewlett says the health benefits of taking folic acid are not just for babies. She says for women, there are added benefits from taking the supplement or making foods high in folic acid a part of your diet.
“Studies are showing that those that have diets that include the intake of folic acid may reduce your risk for heart disease and certain types of cancer,” she said. “So, the studies are showing folic acid not only helps prevent birth defects, but those adding folic acid to their diets are showing lower incidences of these diseases.”
For more information on how folic acid can help you ensure your baby is born healthy, you can contact the Audrain County Health Department at 573-581-1332; or find more information on the ACHD web site, www.audraincountyhealth.org<http://www.audraincountyhealth.org>; or contact any member of the Audrain County Human Services Council. The project is funded partly through a contract the ACHD has with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Maternal and Child Health Services.