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.


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.


Foodie Tuesday: Garlicky Sautéed Greens

This is the season for dark, leafy greens – collards, mustard, beet, kale, even cabbage!  While in Northern California, we can get dark leafy greens pretty much all year-round, they grow best in cooler weather, making fall and winter the best seasons to eat them.  For today’s recipe, we were inspired by the beautiful pre-washed braising greens that we found at the Happy Boys Farm farmers’ market stands this weekend (see our first photo).

Greens are high in so many nutrients and so tasty that we can’t help featuring them often.  They are rich in both minerals (iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium) and vitamins (folate and other B vitamins, K, C, and E). They also provide the phytonutrients beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which protect our cells from damage and our eyes from age-related problems. They even contain small amounts of Omega-3 fats.

This Italian-inspired recipe would make a great addition to any Thanksgiving table, and could also be used with lightly pre-steamed broccoli.  It is one of the quickest greens recipe that we’ve published over the years.  First, it uses baby greens, which are less time-intensive.   It also uses pre-washed greens, which greatly cuts down on the prep time.  If you can’t get to a farmer’s market, consider using pre-washed bagged greens, available in many supermarkets.

Garlicky Sauteed Greens

Garlicky Sautéed Greens
Makes 6 servings
Folate per serving: between 20 – 60 mcg (5-15% RDA)


  • 1 & 1/2 lb. mixed, pre-washed braising greens (collards, kale, mustard, beet, turnip), cut on the short side into 1-inch strips
  • 1 TBS cooking olive oil
  • 3-6 cloves garlic, depending upon taste, very thinly sliced
  • 1/4 TSP crushed red pepper, or more to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock + more as needed
  • 1 – 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil, to finish
  • 1 TBS balsamic vinegar or lemon juice, to finish


  1. Heat oil in large skillet until warm but not smoking.  Add minced garlic and sauté until soft and slightly browned.  Be careful not to burn the garlic – it can turn very quickly. 
  2. Add crushed red pepper and stir briefly with spoon.
  3. Add a handful of greens, stirring constantly.  Add another handful of leaves as the first batch wilts slightly – continue until all greens have been added.
  4. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, then stir in chicken stock.
  5. Steam greens in stock until chicken stock is absorbed and the greens are cooked through but still bright green and retain some shape (about 4-8 minutes, depending upon greens).
  6. Remove from heat, and stir in extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar or lemon juice.  Taste and add more salt, if needed.
  7. Serve immediately.

Optional cooking additions: For a slightly nutty flavor, add 2-3 tbs. of toasted pine nuts before serving.  For a Sicilian twist, add 3-4 tbs. of raisins with the stock and then add the toasted pine nuts before serving.

Nutritional cooking tip: Greens need to be slightly cooked in order to absorb the iron they contain, but not cooked so long that the folate is destroyed.

Source of nutritional information: http://www.ars.usda.gov/News/docs.htm?docid=23199

Foodie Tuesday: Halloween Slow Cooker Pumpkin and White Bean Stew

Slow Cooker Pumpkin and White Bean Stew

Just recently, as though to welcome Halloween, sugar pumpkins began to appear in farmers’ markets and the weather turned fall like.  In response, at Go Folic! our thoughts naturally turn towards hearty pumpkin soups and stews.

While not high in folate, this orange fall favorite packs many health benefits.  Pumpkin is high in fiber (good for digestion), the antioxidant beta-carotene (which may reduce the risk for cancer and reduce wrinkles), and the immune system booster, Vitamin-C.   One cup of pumpkin contains more potassium than a banana (crucial for heart and other muscle function).  When you cook pumpkin, save and roast the seeds, which are full of the mood booster, tryptophan and  phytosterols, shown in studies to reduce LDL or “bad” cholesterol.

Today’s recipe contains both pumpkin and folate-full white beans.  This elegant, easy-to-make vegetarian entree is a slow-cooker adaptation of a Basque recipe published in the original Greens Restaurant Cookbook by Deborah Madison.

Slow Cooker Pumpkin and White Bean Stew
Prep time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4, 160 mcg folate (33% RDA)


  • 1/2 cup dried cannellini beans, rinsed and picked over
  • 1.5 pound pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 2 tbs. virgin olive oil
  • 3 leeks, white parts only, rinsed and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 2 stalks celery, cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. dried sage, crumbled
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • Parsley, chopped (for garnish)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (for garnish)


  1. Soak beans in water overnight; drain, then place in bottom of crock pot.
  2. Toss vegetables with olive oil to coat; mix in sage, salt and pepper; place vegetables on top of beans.
  3. Pour vegetable stock over all; stock should cover all ingredients.  If not, add stock to cover.
  4. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.
  5. Serve topped with parsley and a  drizzle of olive oil for garnish.

Foodie Tuesday: Green Bean Salad with Asian Pear

Green bean, fennel and asican pear saladThe combination of green beans and Asian Pears may seem novel.  However, when we saw the beautiful beans at the farmer’s market this Sunday, and then found the season’s first Asian pears, we knew that we had to do something with them.

Getting our inspiration from this recipe for green bean and fennel salad on Epicurious.com, we tweaked it to get this supper tasty recipe! The sweetness and crunch of the pear provided great contrast to the acidity of the dressing and the bitterness of the parsley.  If you don’t like the taste of parsley, try mixing it with baby lettuce greens.

Have it with a rotisserie chicken and either a nice bread or marble potatoes sprinkled with salt, pepper and thyme, and then sautéed in olive oil & butter, and you have a great meal!


  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons flax seed oil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoons water
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
  • 1/2 pound green beans, trimmed, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces (about 2 cups
  • 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed, quartered lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1 medium Asian pear, cored, quartered and cut into thin slices
  • 1 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves, removed from stalks
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives


  1. Whisk first 6 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Cook green beans in large pot of boiling water until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain. Transfer to large bowl of ice water. Drain beans. Pat dry. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill dressing. Wrap green beans in paper towels and chill.)
  3. Place beans in large bowl. Add fennel, Asian pear, parsley, chives and lemon peel. Drizzle dressing over; toss. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and chill 30 minutes. Toss again and serve.

Weekly Round-up: Women’s Health News 8.9.13

Volunteering is good for your healthCould Being a “Do-Gooder” be Good for Your Genes? The “Good News” is yes!  We now know that our health is only partially inherited and that our environment can turn genes “on” or “off,” something referred to as gene expression. Recently, researchers from the University of California at Los Angeles analyzed the genes of 80 healthy adults whose happiness came from either living a purposeful life or from self-gratification. Those whose happiness came from living a meaningful life had healthier genetic expression in their immune cells and lower levels of inflammatory gene expression. In other words, their immune systems were stronger and they had lower levels of inflammation, which can lead to chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease.  Click here to learn more.  Want to do your body good?  Check out Volunteer Match.

Trying to get pregnant?Should you spend money on antioxidants if you’re trying to get pregnant? Maybe not.  A new review of 28 supplement trials conducted by researchers at the University of Auckland, New Zealand found no evidence that taking antioxidant supplements will improve women’s chances of getting pregnant. Researchers also found only limited information about potential dangers associated with taking antioxidant supplements, such as miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy. Only 14 of the 28 trials reviewed looked at harmful effects. However, those trials that did look at potential harm found that the risk was no higher in women taking antioxidants than in those who received a placebo or standard treatment.  Click here to read more.

Have questions about whether you should spend money on supplements?  A new NIH blog post provides the answer.Should You Take Dietary Supplements? Speaking of supplements, a new post in the National Institutes of Health “News in Health” August newsletter takes a look at taking vitamins, minerals, botanicals and more – when they are beneficial and when you might be wasting your money. Among those supplements the article supports taking? Folic acid for reproductive-age women, of course! The article is available at http://newsinhealth.nih.gov/issue/Aug2013/Feature1

Photo: Mother and daughter holding handsPutting HPV Cancer Prevention on Your Back-to-College Checklist Almost all sexually active people get HPV at some point in their life, but most never know they have been infected. Each year in the United States, about 17,000 women get cancer that is linked with HPV, and cervical cancer is the most common.  The CDC now recommends that all girls and boys get vaccinated against HPV by the age of 13.  Unfortunately, CDC data indicates that vaccination rates in girls aged 13-16 failed to increase between 2011 and 2012.  To learn more, visit the CDC’s “Back-to-School” campaign page.  While there, read Jacquelyn’s story, who is a mother of two and cervical cancer survivor.

Can some women skip surgery for breast irregularities?Can Some Women Safely Skip Breast Surgery?
A new study published in the journal Radiology finds that certain lesions probably won’t progress to cancer. The study involves two breast conditions – atypical lobular hyperplasia (ALH) and lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS). According to one of the researchers, Dr. Kristen Atkins, Associate Professor of Pathology at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, women with either condition should be followed closely. This might involve repeat imaging every six months, or yearly mammograms with supplemental MRIs or ultrasound. Click here to access the study.
USPSTF releases new HIV testiing guidelinesNew HIV Screening Recommendations Include Pregnant Women and Youth
The US Preventive Services Task Force has updated its recommendations for HIV screening to include pregnant women and everyone ages 15-65.  The recommendation also calls for health providers to screen younger adolescents who are at increased risk for HIV.  The recommendation for pregnant women includes “those who present in labor and whose HIV status is unknown.”  To read more, go to www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org