If you don’t take a multivitamin with folic acid every day it can be hard to know if you are getting enough from your diet. Folate (the form of folic acid found in foods) is found in many different kinds of foods, but the body does not always absorb the full amount. You may be eating lots of healthy foods and still not getting the daily recommended dose of folic acid.
Now there’s a cool new technology to help. A genetics research company called VitaPath Genetics has developed an online folate tracker. While working on developing a simple DNA test to identify women at high risk for birth defects, VitaPath realized that many women did not have enough education about folic acid.
Says Kelly Sitts, study coordinator, “We noted doctors saying that healthy women don’t think they are at risk for a birth defect. Women in general also know very little about birth defects, especially NTDs like Spina Bifida. Also women know prenatal vitamins are important but don’t always think to take prior to conception.”
That’s when they developed the idea for a free public health tool called VitaTrack, the iPhone Folate Tracker. The app allows women to easily track their daily dietary folate intake. VitaTrack is now also available for free online to anyone with internet access.
VitaTrack is fun and easy to use, and it may surprise some women who think they are getting enough folic acid through food alone. “After using the app, I surprised myself,” Kelly says. “I eat pretty well, but I wasn’t getting enough folate! I realized that unless I eat a bowl of Cheerios every morning, I usually can’t get enough folate through food alone.”
Make sure you get enough folic acid every day. Visit www.gofolic.org to find out how you can get free vitamins in San Francisco, and download the folate tracker at www.VitaTrack.org to track your diet.