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.


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


Weekly Round-Up: Women’s Health News

This week’s stories include vitamin news, conception timing, new resources on HPV, as well as new tools for doing health promotion online.  Read on!

conceiving in the month of may, if you live in the northern hemisphere, may increase your risk of having a premie - one possible reason to get a flu shot before you get pregnantGetting Pregnant in May Might Raise Odds of Premature Birth Due to Flu Exposure, Another Reason to Get a Flu Shot!

Giving birth prematurely (early) can have many repercussions for a baby’s health, including breathing, heart and brain problems. A new study found that children conceived during the month of May faced a 10% greater risk for premature birth compared to babies conceived at other times of the year.  Researchers believe that the reason could be that expectant mothers are more likely to be exposed to the flu close to the time they are about to give birth, another reason to get a flu shot if you are thinking about getting pregnant.  Click here to read more.

What is HPV?  New Information Page from the CDC

Genital human  papillomavirus (also called HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted  infection (STI). There are more than 40 types of HPV. HPV can cause serious  health problems, including genital warts and certain cancers. Click here to see the CDC’s newly updated information page about HPV.

new research from uc berkeley looks at sunshine, vitamin d and bone strength and qualityVitamin D and Bone Health

We build our bones when we’re young (up to age 26). Then, as we get older, they get weaker and more fragile. Now a team of researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC) Berkeley has shown that this bone-aging process can be significantly accelerated through deficiency of vitamin D – the sunshine vitamin. Click here to learn more.

AIDS.gov has a newly updated social media toolkit pageNew Media Toolkit for Health Promotion

As a part of its technical assistance and training efforts, AIDS.gov provides resources on how to use new media. These tools aren’t just for those working in the field of AIDS/HIV prevention – they are valuable for anyone working to promote health.  The agency recently updated its “New Media Tools” webpage to make it easier to locate and use these resources.  For more, see this post on the AIDS.gov blog.

#HAWMC Day 2 Challenge: Who We Are & Why We Write

food with folic acidToday, we’re combining two prompts into one.  We’re introducing ourselves, why we are so passionate about folic acid and women’s nutrition, and why we decided to get involved in Health Activist Writers Month Challenge.

Who Are We?

Go Folic! is a program of the San Francisco Department of Public Health’s Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Section.  Our project is dedicated to improving the health of teen and adult women by encouraging them to adopt a diet that is rich in folic acid and other vital nutrients.  Because it is difficult for our bodies to absorb all of the folic acid we need from food, Go Folic! also encourages women to supplement their diets with a daily multi-vitamin that contains 400 mcg of folic acid.

Former Staff Member, Christina Ibarra, at the 2010 Washington High School Freshman Parent/Student Day

Former Staff Member, Christina Ibarra, at the 2010 Washington High School Freshman Parent/Student Day

Among our many activities, we provide teen and adult women who live in San Francisco with free vitamins.  While daily multivitamins are relatively inexpensive, many of our health department clinic clients are students or workers living on minimum wage.  As San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities in the world, supplements would otherwise be unaffordable for many of the women we serve.

Why Do We Write?

Over the years, our staff has included women of various ages and ethnicities, including interns.  All of us have contributed to the Go Folic! blog at one point or another.  Right now, due to budget cutbacks, the blog is maintained by only two of us – the project coordinator, Shivaun Nestor, and intern Janis Rice (more on a personal note from both of us later this month). We write to encourage young women to grow up strong, confident, and healthy.  We write to support women in deciding when and how many children to have.  We write to support women in their ability to have healthy children.

Why We’re Passionate about Folic Acid

Yea!  My mom went folic!Our bodies make millions of new cells everyday.  Folic Acid, or Vitamin B-9, works with other B-vitamins to ensure that when our cells divide and grow, they do so in a healthy way.  This means that folic acid is important for everything from our hair, skin, and nails (why we call it the “beauty vitamin) to our hearts, our brains, our nervous systems and our bodies’ ability to handle stress. Since it is water soluble, we need to replenish our supply of folic acid on a daily basis.

Folic acid is extremely important during times of rapid growth, for instance, during puberty. During puberty, folic acid helps a girl’s body mature; studies have found that teen women who get adequate folic acid not only get better grades in school, but that they will have healthier children when they become adults.

Folic acid is especially important several months before a woman gets pregnant, as well as during the first few weeks after an egg is fertilized.  This is because a future baby’s spine is formed during the first few weeks of pregnancy, before most women even know that they are pregnant.  Taking a daily multivitamin with folic acid at least 3 months before pregnancy will reduce a woman’s risk of having a baby with a neural tube defect, a serious malformation of the brain or spine, by 70%.  It may also reduce the risk of premature birth, cleft palate, heart problems and other defects, including autism and developmental delays (see today’s second post on World Autism Awareness Day.)


A Healthy Woman = A Healthy Family = A Healthy Community!  So go folic!

April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day

April 2 is World Autism Awareness DayIn addition to being the 2nd day in the #HAWMC challenge, April 2 is Word Autism Awareness Day. It is estimated that 1 of 50 school children is affected by this condition. The day is intended to raise awareness of this medical issue so that early intervention can be found for those suffering from autism. WegoHealth.com has an incredible section dedicated to this condition, including educational information and support for those who have been affected.

A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that meeting recommendations for folic acid — at least 600 micrograms per day — in the first month of pregnancy was tied to a 38 percent lower chance of having a kid with autism or Asperger’s. The researchers surveyed California moms, and found that those whose children had autism recalled getting less folic acid through food and supplements early in their pregnancies than those whose kids didn’t develop the disorder.
Folic acid, and its natural form, folate is crucial to brain development and functioning. While this study was preliminary, and the link between folic acid and autism remains controversion, research findings are reassuring since some scientists have theorized that perhaps folic acid fortification in the U.S. was responsible for the increased prevalence of autism spectrum disorders.

To learn more about this study see this article in Reuters. You can also access the original study from the May 30, 2012 online version of the American
Journal of Clinical Nutrition at bit.ly/MdznkT.

To learn more about dealing with autism, check out WegoHealth.com’s autism page at http://autism.wegohealth.com/autism.html or read this wonderful article by Chantal Sicile-Kira, whose son was diagnosed with autism, in the Huffington Post.

How much do you know about preventing birth defects? (Quiz)


In the U.S., about 1 out of every 3 babies is born with some type of birth defect.  Many of them could have been prevented.  So how much do you know about preventing birth defects?  We figured that we would follow up yesterday’s re-blog of the Go Folic! UK’s post about Vitamin B-12 with this short quiz (it will open in a new window, everyone passes).

Go to CDC Birth Defects Quiz (will open in a new window)

Once you’re finished, please share this information with friends and family members, especially those who are trying to become pregnant or could get pregnant.

This is important news for any woman who might become pregnant and it makes sense, since our bodies require B-12 to process folic acid. And it’s one more reason to Go Folic! with a multi-vitamin. The study that this recommendation is based on recommends that women supplement with at least 2.5 mcg of B-12 everyday. Go Folic! Multis, which San Francisco women can get for free from the health department contain 6 mcg. If you don’t live in San Francisco, any multivitamin with 100% of the RDA will have this amount.