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….
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.
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
Last weekend I went out to the Fillmore Farmer’s Market to hand out multivitamins in celebration of Folic Acid Awareness Week. It was a cold morning and there were fewer shoppers than usual. People walked around the stalls, checking out the week’s fresh produce, talking with the farmers and their neighbors. One shopper took off warm mittens to pick up an apple at the table next door. Another lowered their scarf to ask a question about a big bundle of beets. All the shoppers at the market seemed happy to leave behind weeks of unhealthy holiday eating and focus on fresher, healthier food.
My table was set up next to the Market Information table. My neighbors were two friendly women who answered market questions and handed out free recipes. One told me that the Fillmore Market is happy to accept EBT, and will be offering users promotional credits in spring. The woman also told me about her work with the Cooking Matters program. The program brings six weeks of cooking classes and materials to community groups and shares lessons on how to cook healthfully without spending a lot of money. I was glad to hear that little things like these exist to help make fresh eating easier for those of us on tight budgets.
Even though the cold meant less stops at the Go Folic! table, it was great to talk to women who wanted to learn about folic acid. One mother brought her two twin daughters to the table to get free vitamins. At 14, both girls had already outgrown their smiling mother, towering over her by several inches. I thought it was great that they were starting good habits early, getting their daily dose of nutrients through a multivitamin, and through the delicious vegetables they had picked up at the market.
Every time I go to an event for Go Folic! I learn something new about the neighborhoods around us and the ways people care for their health. It’s the best part of this job, because every time is different and meaningful. Next week we’ll go to a Family Resource Center in Potrero. I can’t wait to share more stories with all of you!
Make sure to get at least 400mcg of folic acid every day!
It’s easy to do:
Take a multivitamin every day with the recommended dose of folic acid, or…
Increase the amount of folate your diet by eating enriched cereals and grains, or lots of leafy greens.
Jan 2-8 is National Folic Acid Awareness Week. Folic Acid is an important B vitamin that is used everytime your body makes new cells. Enough folic acid may help give you healthier hair, nails, and skin, support heart health, and aid against depression. It’s especially important for growing teens and women who might become pregnant. Go Folic! is celebrating FA Awareness Week by spreading the word at San Francisco Farmers Markets. This Saturday, we will be at the Alemany Farmers Market and the Fillmore Farmers Market from 9am-noon.
Start 2011 off on the right folic-foot. Come by to get a free supply of multivitamins with folic acid!