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.


Have you taken the Go Folic survey yet?

In case you haven’t heard, Go Folic wants to know what you think about our websites.

Not only do we want your feedback, we also want to pay you for it!

Take 5 minutes and answer some short questions and you’ll have the chance to win one of three $100 Visa Gift Cards from Go Folic!

Right now, your odds of winning are pretty good.  Let’s just say you have a better chance of winning $100 from Go Folic than you do of winning the lottery, getting struck by lightning, finding a four leaf clover, or getting pregnant unexpectedly (OK maybe not that last one).

So take our survey and win some money!  It will really help us out and make the stuff we post online even better.

You can find our survey here!

Healthy Woman Bio, Part 2 – Amina Burell

Last week on our blog we talked with Master of Public Health Student and health advocate Amina Burell.  We read about how her diet as a vegan (no meat and no dairy) changed her eating habits and the ways she got her vitamins.  Today we continue her story and read about how important her diet choices became when she was pregnant with her baby girl…

Now that you are pregnant how has your diet been different?pregnant woman

It has been very different. I have had to really make accommodations for myself in order to consume the proper amount of protein.  Pregnant women who are vegans need 85 to 100 grams of protein everyday.  This has been very difficult to achieve as it requires me to eat a lot of food.  Being human, I have on occasion eaten fish and eggs making sure of course that they’re organic farm raised fish and cage free eggs.

What would you say the difference is from a woman who is pregnant and normally eats everything compare with your diet?

BIG difference, women who normally eat everything really have only to worry about staying away from foods high in fat and sugar, and they have to make sure they’re not overeating.  As a vegan I have to make sure every bite counts, I cannot waste calories on something silly like tortilla chips.

Do you take supplements?  What’s in it?

Yes I take a prenatal vitamin and it has many different vitamins like A, B, C, D, E, folic acid, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B12, iron, zinc, and calcium.  I also take a calcium supplement.

When did you start to take vitamins?

When I got pregnant I started taking them religiously; before I became pregnant would take a daily vitamin every few days or so.

Do you do anything special to remember to take your vitamins?

No, they’re right by the fridge so when I’m making breakfast I just grab them out of the cabinet.

What is one thing you would like to tell other women about vitamins?

Take a lot of calcium and make sure you’re getting folic acid in your diet every day.

Thanks Amina!

Healthy Women Bio Part 1- Amina Burrell

Amina Burrell is a student at San Jose State University pursuing her Masters in Public Health.  She also works with the Champions for Change program serving African American communities in the Bay Area.  She educates and motivates families to eat and cook healthier, while keeping the traditional cuisines enjoyed by their families through generations.  Also, when we met with her, Mrs. Burrell was pregnant with her daughter.  She has been a vegan (she doesn’t eat meat or dairy) for over a year and she was happy to share her diet experiences with us  – and talk about how they affected her pregnancy…

Where do you live?

I Live in San Jose.

What is your age?

I am twenty-seven years old.

What inspired you to work around nutrition?

As an undergraduate, I began to realize that many of the ailments and discomforts so many people face is directly connected to the types of food they eat and don’t eat.  Realizing this encouraged me to study preventive approaches to disease which ultimately included nutrition.

Why did you decide to become a vegan? 

I decided to become a vegan after I learned about our food system here in America.  Many environmental concerns we have and physical diseases we experience related to how we grow and produce animals and animal products for consumption.  Changing the way I ate was one thing I could do to not contribute to environmental and health-related challenges we face everyday.

With a restricted diet how do you get all the nutrients and vitamins you need (such as protein, B6, and B12 that are only found in poultry)? 

Well, the first thing I do is I don’t think of my diet as restricted. I have eliminated only two items from my diet, meat and dairy. The key to maintaining optimal health as a vegan is eating a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, legumes, and nuts.  So on any given day I can have any item from the fruit and vegetable rainbow; for breakfast I could have steel cut oatmeal with acai berries, blueberries, and currants with fresh squeezed OJ; for lunch I could eat a veggie sandwich on rye topped with avocadoes, sprouts, tomatoes, purple onions, cucumber and pickles with a small side salad of spinach, kale, and purple cabbage with spiced pumpkin seeds and a bowl of veggie chili; for dinner I could eat veggie lasagna with vegan mozzarella cheese, salad and fresh cut melon.  In a day I have not only more than exceeded my daily recommendation for fruits and vegetables but I have also had something delicious and interesting to eat at every meal all the while keeping my contribution to the environmental crisis to a minimum.

Because the B12 vitamin and other b-vitamins is only found in animals I take a supplement.  Complete proteins can be found in a very diverse diet and Quinoa (a whole grain); the body is incredibly efficient at recycling and using protein.

What were experiences when you eat out with friends who are carnivores?

You know, my experiences have been fine; I have friends and family who are supportive of my decision to be vegan.  It’s some of the menus that are out there that have given me the most trouble in the past and you’d be surprised at how some waiters will look at you when you say “no cheese”.

…Check back next week for the second half of our interview.  We’ll talk about Amina’s diet and how it related to her pregnancy…

The Truth About Energy Drinks by Barbara Kass-Annese

Vitamins in Energy Drinks…. Do They Make You Healthy?
The vitamins in energy drinks aren’t going to make you healthier. In fact, though most have small amounts of B vitamins and vitamin C, the body quickly uses these up because of the large amounts of caffeine and other substances that are added to the drinks.  Also, energy drinks can cause your body to quickly use up the vitamins and minerals it already has.  In the end, this can be harmful to your health. Not having the right amount of vitamins and minerals can affect every part of you.  It can hurt your heart, bones, brain and your immune system (which helps fight infections).

Over time, regular caffeine and alcohol (some of the drinks also have alcohol in them,) may even increase the chances of getting breast cancer and for guys it may increase the chance of getting testicular cancer.

Why Do So Many People Use Energy Drinks?
When you have an energy drink you can definitely feel great. It increases physical energy and stimulates the brain. When this happens, you feel like you can do everything faster and even better. You can also sleep fewer hours.   All of this sounds good, but is there a downside to energy drinks?

The Truth About Energy Drinks

Even though energy drinks are everywhere and have some herbs and vitamins in them, the truth is they are addicting and stress out the body in ways that can be dangerous to your health.  After drinking energy drinks for a while, most people’s brains and bodies need need more and more of the drinks.  They become hooked just like any drug addict. It’s not surprising that over 8 million people are drinking them to a tune of $3 BILLION dollars!

Some people develop stomach problems, begin to feel very nervous and irritable and can no longer sleep well. Less sleep means that over the time, the body becomes weak and people become sick.

Blood pressure can go up and the heart can beat very irregularly. One medical study showed that healthy adults who drank 2 cans of an energy drink a day had their blood pressure and heart rate go up. When this happens the chances of a heart attack, stroke, internal bleeding, and even death go up.  This is true for adults AND TEENS.

In other words, energy drinks can make you think you are healthy while you are becoming very ill. You’re heart can be effected no matter how strong or young you are. If the drinks are used with caffeine pills, drugs, and/or alcohol, the problems can be even worse.

How Much Caffeine Are We Talking About?
One of the main ingredients in many energy drinks is guarana, a plant that is one of the richest sources of caffeine. It has up to 3 times the amount of caffeine as in coffee. By the way, the amount of caffeine doesn’t even have to be listed on the label of the drink.

Caffeine intoxication is like being poisoned and can happen to anyone at any time.  It causes seriously bad nervousness, anxiety, restlessness, difficulty sleeping, stomach upset, tremors, rapid heartbeats, restlessness, and even death.  The sugar in some of the drinks combined with guarana, more caffeine and other energy  herbs can be a dangerous combination, even more serious then caffeine intoxication.

What About Alcohol and Energy Drinks
Some people mix energy drinks with alcohol because they think that the energy drink will off-set the effect of alcohol. It may, but that doesn’t matter because the combination of alcohol, caffeine and energy herbs is very dangerous for the nervous system and heart.  Your heart can beat irregularly.  You can also become dehydrated and end up the hospital. You can even have a heart attack. Anyway you look at it, these substances are a potentially dangerous mix.

Pregnancy and Energy Drinks
If someone becomes pregnant while drinking energy drinks, it can hurt the development of the pregnancy. How serious is unknown. The baby’s brain and physical development can be effected. This can cause the baby to be born with physical and
developmental problems. Even if someone is taking her daily recommended amount of 400-800 mcg of folic acid in a multivitamin, she probably isn’t protected from the bad effects of the energy drinks.

Get Help Right Away
If you are drinking energy drinks and ever having problems urinating (peeing), vomit or have cramps in your stomach, you may be overdosing. Go to a hospital right away. Emergency rooms and Poison Centers are seeing more and more energy drink related nausea and heart problems as the number of people using the drinks increases.

Don’t Stop Right Away
If you or any of your friends drink these every day, you shouldn’t completely stop at one time. You could become very nervous, even depressed and have no energy. You should drink less and less every day so that your body doesn’t have a bad reaction from the withdrawal of the caffeine. The great news is that when your body gets used to not having the caffeine, your energy will come back. You still need to take your vitamins every day, eat healthy foods and exercise.

“Toxic Jock”
One last important issue about energy drinks. Research has shown that energy drinks can cause some guys to have what people in the medical community are calling “toxic jock” behavior. This means some guys get aggressive, have unprotected sex, abuse drugs more and can be violent. This is not a good mix for anyone to be around, particularly girls and women. Be careful and take care of yourself so that you don’t get forced into a sexual situation or get physically hurt.

Read more at Suite101: The Truth About Energy Drinks: What you Need to Know


Barbara Kass-Annese

Barbara Kass-Annese, RNCNP, MSN, is a clinician who has written extensively on the topic of vitamins and women’s health.  Currently with the California Family Health Council, she also serves as a medical consultant to the Go Folic! Women’s Nutrition Project.  We are lucky that she has agreed to write a semi-monthly column, “Clinician’s Corner” for our blog.

Healthy Woman Bio with Jeannie Yee Balido

Continuing our Healthy Women Bio Series, today we have an interview from Jeannie Yee Balido.  Jeannie is one of eight Bay Area women featured on our Go Folic! posters and handouts.  Jeannie knows that folic acid is an important part of a daily diet for all women at all ages.  We asked her to talk to us about her experience with Folic Acid and women’s health, and this is what she had to say:

Where do you live?

East Bay

What is your age?

Over 40

What do you do for work?

Training and event program manager

Why did you decide to participate in the shoot?

Interesting campaign – wanted to learn more about benefits of Folic Acid

Any children?  Did you take a prenatal vitamin before and/or during your pregnancy?  Why?

Yes, three children.  Yes – I took prenatal vitamins before, during and a little after pregnancy.

How much did you know about folic acid before the photo shoot?

I only knew about taking folic acid during pregnancy.

Did you learn anything new about folic acid during the shoot?

I learned that folic acid is good for women even after pregnancy and throughout a women’s lifetime.

Did what you learned influence your behavior in any way? If yes, how?

I am more aware of looking for foods with folic acid when I buy groceries.

Do you take a multi-vitamin? Do you do anything special to remember to take it?

I take multi-vitamins but need to do it on a more regular basis.

What is one thing you’d like to tell other women about this subject?

I’d like women to know that folic acid is good for women even after pregnancy and throughout a woman’s lifetime.

Healthy Woman Bio – Laura Gonzalez

Laura Gonzalez is one of eight Bay Area women featured in our Go Folic! campaign.  Laura was proud to represent health and beauty in our photo shoot and focus groups. If you’d like to help spread the word about folic acid email us here! Read what Laura had to say about her experience with Folic Acid and women’s health, and check out her cool tip for remembering to take her multivitamin…

Where do you live?

San Francisco

What is your age?


What do you do for work?

Marketing Strategist and Photographer

Why did you decide to participate in the shoot?

To promote diversity

How much did you know about folic acid before the photo shoot?

Quite a bit, thanks to a focus group about folic acid that I attended.

Did what you learned influence your behavior in any way? If yes, how?

I make a point of taking a multivitamin every day and make a point of eating folate-rich foods

Do you take a multi-vitamin?  Do you do anything special to remember to take it?

When I fix my breakfast, I make sure to add the vitamin to my plate.

What is one thing you’d like to tell other women about this subject?

Folic acid isn’t just for mothers-to-be.