Young Women Need Folic Acid Every Day

~ May 2001 No.128 ~

If you are a female, and are of child bearing age, what is the one vitamin that you should be getting everyday? Any guesses? Here´s a hint: you should be getting about 400 micrograms per day. Still can´t guess? This vitamin has been shown to significantly reduce neural tube defects in newborn children.

Have you heard of folic acid?

In spite of its increasing visibility in the medical / health literature, too many young women still don´t know about the dangers of having too little folic acid in their diet. In a recent survey carried out jointly by the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, only about 13% of respondents knew that folic acid was effective in preventing birth defects. Even more disturbing was the finding that only about 7% of the women polled knew that folic acid needs to be taken before pregnancy starts.

Common Birth Defects Prevented by Proper Folic Acid Intake Before Pregnancy
Spina bifida
the most common of the neural tube defects (NTD’s), is one of the most devastating of all birth defects. It occurs when the spine fails to close properly during the first month of pregnancy.
Anencephaly
results from the failure of the neural tube to close properly at the upper end, causing a fatal condition in which most of the brain is absent.

The chemistry of folic acid is complex and is based on pteroic acid. Folic acid is found in a variety of fruits and vegetables and bakery products produced from folic acid fortified (in the United States) wheat flour or corn meal. Chicken liver, beef liver, lentils, spinach, orange juice and asparagus are all very good sources of folic acid. However, many health officials recommend that taking folic acid as part of a multi-vitamin supplement each day may be the most convenient way to get enough folic acid.

STRUCTURE OF PTEROIC ACID
(folic acid backbone)

pteroic acid
3D Structure (Jmol)
1
  1. Reference

 

Other articles on folic acid

folic acid in the news

Last modified

September 08 2015