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Not Enough Women Getting Folic Acid


(NC)—While most women have heard about folic acid, less than half know it's of benefit to women of childbearing age, according to the Folic Acid Alliance of Ontario. In addition, many women don't know whether they need to take folic acid, and if they do, how much they need or what are its sources.

(NC)—While most women have heard about folic acid, less than half know it's of benefit to women of childbearing age, according to the Folic Acid Alliance of Ontario. In addition, many women don't know whether they need to take folic acid, and if they do, how much they need or what are its sources.

Folic acid, the synthetic form of folate, is a B vitamin that contributes to the healthy development of babies. In Canada, it is estimated that four out of every 1,000 children born have a neural tube defect. These are birth defects that affect the brain and spinal cord. They occur shortly after conception, often before a woman knows she's pregnant. The most common defect is spina bifida, which results in the spine not forming completely early in the pregnancy.

Studies show that women who eat a diet rich in folate or foods fortified with folic acid and who take a multivitamin containing at least 0.4 mg of folic acid before pregnancy can reduce the risk of neural tube defects by up to 70 per cent.

It's recommended that women take folic acid at least three months before they get pregnant and throughout the first trimester of their pregnancy. Since not all pregnancies are planned, all women of childbearing age who are sexually active should try to eat foods rich in folic acid, like dark green leafy vegetables, bananas, nuts, and asparagus, as well as foods fortified with folic acid, such as certain breads, rice, and pasta.

Since it is challenging to get folic acid through diet alone, women should also consider taking a daily multivitamin containing a minimum of 0.4 mg folic acid, like Centrum Forte®. For more information on vitamin and mineral supplementation, visit www.centrumvitamins.ca.

- News Canada

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