A word from Curtis Chan


Good evening San Francisco!  I hope everyone was able to enjoy the perks of folic acid awareness week.  This week was just the beginning of a new year, a year where awareness and action will be the driving force taking control of our very own health!

Today’s blog comes to us from the fabulous Curtis Chan, MD, MPH, Medical Director of Maternal, Adolescent & Child Health in SF.  Let’s here what he has to say….

  1. Importance of Folate
  • Vitamin B9, also called folic acid or folate is found naturally in some foods, including leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, beans, salmon, and whole grains.   However, most women do not eat enough of these foods to provide the optimal health benefit of folic acid.
  • B9 is an essential nutrient for amino acid synthesis and DNA replication.  Hence, it’s particularly important during the critical first 8 weeks of pregnancy, during the critical window of early brain and spinal cord development of the fetus.
  • Compelling research showing that folic acid drastically prevented neural tube defects caused the US Preventive Services Taskforce and the National Academy of Sciences (1996) to recommend daily consumption of 400 mcg of folic acid.
  1. Study Findings
  • In July 2014, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the main professional organization for OB-GYN physicians, published in its highly reputable peer-reviewed scientific journal, Obstetrics and Gynecology, a research article from Harvard Medical School, “Maternal pre-pregnancy folate intake and risk of spontaneous abortion and stillbirth.”
  • The study showed that the risk of miscarriage (or spontaneous abortions) was 20% lower among women taking high amounts of folate acid (730 ug/d) compared to those with the lowest intake (0 ug/d).
  • Since 1992, public health and medical authorities have recommended that all women U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that all women capable of becoming pregnant take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily to prevent neural tube defects.  While many women aren’t familiar with the brain and spinal cord deformities of neural tube defects, research has since shown other health benefits of folic acid to the mother and infant.
  • The significant risk reduction in miscarriage is another important reminder about the benefits of women taking folic acid vitamins as part of their daily routine, before becoming pregnant.

Curtis Chan, MD, MPH

Medical Director of Maternal, Child & Adolescent Health

San Francisco Department of Public Health

30 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 260b, SF, CA 94102

Foodie Tuesday is almost here!


Foodie Tuesday has returned! …Except we’re a day late…so we would like to introduce Foodie Wednesday this week!

Fall is here, but not for much longer. In nearly one month winter will have set in, and unhealthy eating & laziness will also be setting in… NOT! Wait a minute……. Just because the months of notorious unhealthy eating are creeping up on us doesn’t mean we have to let all of our hard work with our bodies go to waste. Beginning this coming Tuesday, November 25, we will provide you with yummy recipes for eating healthy throughout the cold months to come.

We wanted to warm you up this week with an overview of some of the fresh, rich in folate, produce our beautiful state of California provides us, in the fall and winter months.  california-dreaming-panoAnd to the rest of the world outside of California, all of these foods still apply to you (but you may have to be a little more creative)!

FYI: We will be using the words folic acid and folate interchangeably, like we explained two weeks ago, folic acid and folate are essentially the same, the difference is how the body recognizes it.

Dark Leafy Greens
-Spinach- 1cup= 263 mcg of folate
-Collard Greens- 1cup= 177mcg of folate
-Romaine Lettuce- 1cupe= 76 mcg of folate
Broccoli– 1cup= 24% of daily folic acid recommendation
Citrus Fruits
-Papaya- 1 papaya= 115mcg of folate
-Oranges- 1 orange= 40mcg of folate
-Grapefruit- 1 grapefruit= 30mcg of folate
Brussels Sprouts– 1cup= 25% of daily folic acid recommendation
Cauliflower– 1cup= 55mcg of folate and approx. 14% of daily folic acid recommendation
Beets– 1cup= 76mcg of folate and approx. 20% of daily folic acid recommendation
Celery– 1cup= 34mcg of folate and approx. 8% of daily folic acid recommendation
Winter Squash– 1cup= 57mcg of folate and approx. 14% of daily folic acid recommendation.

vegetables-to-grow-in-winter-640x360

Now that we are all aware of some of the folate rich produce available in the fall and winter months, we can let the information marinate until Tuesday. Make sure to stay tuned and bring your appetite next week!

Until next time, keep folicin’ San Francisco.

Hi again…!


Hi again everyone! It’s been a while since we’ve last posted, so we decided to start to get back on track. First things first, a warm welcome to all of our new followers and an even warmer hello to our dedicated previous followers. Go Folic! Get Healthy is a nutritional project we have created here in San Francisco. We are all about YOU! Our primary focus is ensuring every female of child-bearing age gets the proper amount of folic acid (according to the NIH an average of 400mcg). Go Folic! Get Healthy is so committed to making sure every female in SF can get adequate folic acid we provide FREE VITAMINS!! Currently you can come to 30 Van Ness, suit 210 during business hours (Monday – Thursday, 1pm-4pm) and we will give you a free bottle of multivitamins.

Folic Acid Awareness Week is January 5, 2014- January 11, 2014 and during that week we will have so many great activities going on in the community, but most importantly that will be the start of your local community clinics distributing multivitamins. Way more convenient, right?!

WHAT IS IT REALLY? What is folic acid?? Folic acid is water-soluble B vitamin, which is important for women to get before, during, and after pregnancy. Folic Acid helps produce DNA and form healthy new cells. The process of creating new healthy cells is inevitably important to a developing fetus.

WHY? Why, you ask. 50% of all pregnancies are unplanned! WHAT THE FOLIC?? So all you women out there who are not planning on having a baby anytime soon and women who are…. Listen up…. Folic Acid is VERY important in helping reduce the number of babies born with neural tube defects. Neural tube defects are defects in the brain or spine of the developing fetus, which ultimately lead to various problems when the baby is born.

So now that we know why us ladies should take folic acid if we get pregnant, let’s talk about the other reasons we want to take folic acid. How many times have you looked in the mirror and wondered when is your hair finally going to grow out of the, not-so-hot-haircut-anymore? Well ladies, fortunately the answer has been right in front of us. Yes, you guessed correctly, the answer is folic acid. Folic acid has shown to increase the rate of hair and nail growth. And speaking from first hand experience here at Go Folic! Get Healthy, we have experienced it ourselves!

So let’s recap… to help prevent any neural tube defects from happening, as well as to expedite your hair & nail growth, a daily multivitamin with 400mcg of folic acid, as well as eating folate rich foods help reduce your chances (or grow longer hair)! You can find folate (the form of folic acid once it gets broken down in the body) in food such as dark green vegetables, beans, and fortified cereals. In addition, a few fruits such as, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, oranges and grapefruit juice also are rich in folate.

Well ladies and gent’s (those of you wise guys who want to ensure their girlfriend, wife, sister, cousin, etc. stay healthy) it’s been a pleasure… This is just the start of many more blogs to come. As we continue to blog we will get more in depth of the specifics of folic acid. If there are any specific questions on folic acid please comment and let us know. Also, if there are any topics in particular you want to know more about, we can also take request for blog topicsJ

Until next time, keep folicin’ San Francisco.

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Introducing Jenelle Merzon!


Please join us in welcoming Jenelle Merzon to the Go Folic! family.  Jenelle comes to us from Tuoro University, where she is earning her Masters in Public Health degree (MPH).  She will be interning with Go Folic! through January 2015, working on creating a multi-pronged SFDPH-wide event in conjunction with next year’s Folic Acid Awareness Week, scheduled for January 5, 2015 through January 11, 2015.  As Jenelle will also become a regular contributor to this blog, we promise to keep readers updated on our 2015 Folic Acid Awareness Week plans as they take shape.

In the meantime, here is Jenelle in her own words…

Jenelle MerzonI was born and raised on the central coast in San Luis Obispo, California.  I attended the University of California, Santa Barbara and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and a minor in Exercise Physiology.  I have always had an interest in the human body and a passion for staying healthy through exercise and proper nutrition.  These passions led me to physical therapy.

The experience I gained while working in physical therapy set my foundation for pursuing a Masters of Public Health.  I will receive my MPH in December 2014, with an emphasis in Community Public Health, from Touro University, California.  I have volunteered and worked on many different community health projects, ranging from coordinating health promotion events to being a research assistant at Touro University.  While at Touro University I worked on studies that focused on improving MPH student’s health competencies and skills.  I am very excited for the opportunity to begin my internship with the GoFolic! Project within the Department of Public Health, San Francisco.

I am much more than just school and work!  You can commonly find me training for marathons, snowboarding, or attempting to train my dachshund puppies.  Most recently you’ll notice that I love being a newlywed with my husband, Andre.  I would probably be most known for being goofy, a vegetarian for 20+ years with no real reason why, and taking trips around the world.

 

 

A Warm Welcome to Camarin Sanford!


We want to welcome Camarin Sanford, who will be working as an intern with the San Francisco Department of Public Health’s Family Planning Program (Go Folic!’s parent program) through February 2015.  Ms. Sanford, who comes to us with a wealth of experiences in the social work field, is looking to expand her skills as a sexual health educator.  Among other projects, she will be updating our Pregnancy Referral Manual, coordinating community groups to review and approve client education materials, and helping to craft (and deliver) several fun sexual health education sessions at one of our partner organizations, the San Francisco Black Infant Health Program.  We are also hoping that she will contribute some posts to this blog.

Without further ado, here is Camarin in her own words…

Bio PictureGreetings!

My name is Camarin Sanford and I am a south Sacramento, CA native. I am currently a Title X Open Doors Intern with the San Francisco Department of Public Health Family Planning Program. Additionally, I serve as the Family Services Manager at a San Francisco based non-profit drug treatment center servicing female offenders on parole.

While interning with the Family Planning Program I endeavor to explore and advance the alliance of mental health and public health services and to propel its impact on young women of color. Historically, the African-American female body and African-American sexuality was a commoditized product. As a result of this devaluation, in addition to many complex extraneous variables, the understanding of African-American female sexuality can be nebulous. While interning, I will strive to learn about the ways in which women of color, specifically African-American women, can be linked to lasting and effective public health, mental health, and sexual health services.   I am training to become a sexual health educator and reproductive health specialist to foster sexual health equity among at-risk populations.

I am a proud and esteemed alum of Clark-Atlanta University where I earned my bachelor’s degree in psychology. While in Atlanta, I trained extensively as a post abortion counselor, juvenile mental health intern, and case manager during my undergraduate matriculation. As a result of these experiences, I found my passion to serve others. I plan to earn my MPH/MSW in the coming year.

Find a way or make one!

Fun Facts about me:

  • I have skydived from 13,000 feet!
  • I was born with eleven fingers!
  • I own more pairs of Converse™ Chuck Taylors than I do high heels!
  • I love the Miami Dolphins!!

Women’s Health News Round-Up: November 15, 2013


This week’s news round-up focuses on health events and new or revised health resources.  What’s included?  A New York Times article about the question of why Americans weigh more now than we did 40 years ago, Diabetes Awareness Month, lesbian/bi/queer women and STI risk, and the relative benefits of HPV vs. pap screening.

Gut bacteriaWhy do Americans Weigh More Now than We Did 40 Years Ago?
For many people it seems clear that the “obesity epidemic” (a phrase we don’t like) is due to bigger portion sizes and less physical activity, a view that is not supported by the research – you cannot tell how much someone eats or exercises just by looking at them.  However, a recent article in the New York Times explores one important factor with which few people are  familiar – changes in the gut bacteria that help us digest carbohydrates, provide vitamins, and regulate how much fat our body stores.  Click here to read the article.

National Diabetes Month 2013November is Diabetes Awareness Month!
Diabetes is a preconception health issue.  Uncontrolled, both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes raise the risk of problems for baby and mother. Diabetes affects nearly 26 million Americans and an estimated 79 million people are at risk for developing it. During November, the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) and its partners are working with individuals, families and communities to take action and encourage simple, but important lifestyle changes to improve their health – particularly if they have diabetes or are at risk for the disease.

Also during Diabetes Awareness Month, the American Diabetes Association, which sponsors the event, is focusing on raising awareness that diabetes is a condition that affects people who have it on a daily basis.  They are inviting people with diabetes to share their photos and stories of living with the disease on Facebook as part of their “Day in the Life of…” campaign.

What to cook if you have diabetes? You can download “Tasty Recipes for People with Diabetes and Their Families” by clicking here (PDF – 1 MB).

Lesbians in love - still from the Taiwanese film, Spider Lilies"Are women who have sex with women at risk for getting STIs?
The Womenshealth.gov website recently updated their website for lesbian and bisexual women.  They now provide a whole section on how STIs are transmitted during sex between women.  In addition to impairing fertility, untreated STIs – including some that are more likely to affect women who have sex with women and trans men,  can affect a developing fetus and raise the risk for preterm birth.  Access the health fact sheet here.

a doctor talks to her patientHPV Screening vs. Pap Smears
Finally, a new study published in the Lancet suggests that screening for the human papillomavirus (HPV) is more effective than Pap tests for protecting women against invasive cervical cancer.  This is life-saving news for the 12,340 who are diagnosed with the condition annually.  Get the full story here.


Halloween Preconception Health Tip! Love Your Teeth


Healthy Halloween Teeth?

Healthy Halloween Teeth?

October is National Dental Hygiene Month, which is sponsored by the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA).  So it only seemed logical to focus on oral health for our last post of the month.  Yes, today’s post is partially inspired by the candy that is so tempting during and directly after Halloween, not to mention the beautiful sugar skulls that are part of Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations.  But it’s also inspired by the importance of dental health for moms-to-be, both before and during pregnancy.

Sugar Skull

Click on the sugar skull for a traditional sugar skull recipe.Why is dental health important for women who might or want to get pregnant?

Brushing, flossing and regular cleaning is important for all women since problems with your teeth and gums can affect the health of your entire body. It’s even more important before and during pregnancy, including for these reasons:

  • Gum disease and other dental problems can affect the health of a pregnancy,  increasing the risk for both having a baby early (preterm) and giving birth to a baby that is too small (low birth weight).
  • The changing hormone levels that occur with pregnancy can actually make some dental problems worse.
  • If a woman’s mouth is healthy before and during pregnancy, it’s likely that her baby will be born with a healthy mouth too.  

Tips for Better Dental Health

Here are some dental health tips from Every Woman California.

  • Visit a dentist at least once a year, or as often as the dentist recommends, for cleaning, exam and protective treatments, such as fluoride and dental sealants.
  • Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste and a soft toothbrush at least two times every day, especially before bed.
  • Floss your teeth every day.
  • Limit foods and drinks containing sugar to mealtimes only. Don’t drink juice, soda or carbonated drinks, including diet soda, between meals. Juices and sodas contain sugar that can cause tooth decay (cavities). Even diet sodas contain acids that can weaken the outer surface of your teeth.
  • If you use chewing gum or candies, choose brands that are sugarless. Those containing xylitol are best and can help protect your teeth. Xylitol can actually help decrease the amount of harmful bacteria in your mouth that cause tooth decay.
  • Don’t smoke or use tobacco products.

What should you do if you don’t have dental insurance?

Despite the fact that a healthy mouth plays an important role in overall health, the Affordable Care Act doesn’t include dental coverage.  And dental care can be very expensive. Fortunately, if you live in San Francisco, there are many sources of free and low-cost dental care, and the San Francisco Health Plan (Healthy SF) does cover some services.  Click here for a recently updated list of low-cost dental providers from the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

How do you brush your teeth?

According to the ADHA, brushing and flossing regularly is the best thing that you can do to keep your mouth healthy.  Are you doing it correctly?  The video below provides a great “how to.” For more tips, click here to go to the ADHA website.