Folic Acid (Folate)

Sleeping Infant

Folic Acid (Folate)

Magic moment

Although it’s been more than thirty years now, I can still vividly remember the moment I first realized that a new little life was forming inside of me. At that time, I was still in college and not really planning on adding to my family. The nurse at the on-campus clinic where I had my pregnancy test done, was so used to dealing with unwanted pregnancies, that she was ready to commiserate with me on my bad luck, until she realized that I was married and that it was actually good news! 

Before even considering how a new baby would impact my life, I experienced that first joyful knowledge that a little person was busy developing inside the nice warm place my body had provided for him. The point is, by the time that moment came, the baby was already six weeks along, and had been counting on me to provide all the nutrients he would need to eventually develop into a strong healthy newborn.

In case you are wondering, Folate is the naturally occurring form of this vitamin found in food and in the body. Folic acid generally refers to the form of this vitamin found in supplements, but Folate and Folic Acid are often used interchangeably.

Prevent birth defects

One of those nutrients is a B Vitamin called Folate or Folic Acid.  Although it is needed in very small amounts, about 600 micrograms a day for pregnant moms, Folic Acid is of monumental importance in new cell formation and the prevention of birth defects. So even if you are not now pregnant, if you could become pregnant, you need to maintain a healthy diet, which includes getting enough folate.

Food sources

Besides a vitamin supplement, some good sources of Folate are Green Leafy Vegetables, Fortified Grain Products, Legumes, Seeds, Liver and Citrus Fruits. These sources provide a lot of opportunities for you to choose foods that are rich in Folate. A salad made of dark greens and garnished with sunflower seeds is just one example. Chili made with several types of beans served with a whole-grain, even seeded, roll is another.

Not just for pregnant moms

Oh, and Folic Acid isn’t just for pregnant moms. It is important for everyone to get enough of this B vitamin, including children and adults. Recently, it has been shown that in addition to helping with the formation of new cells, Folate also helps with the breakdown of homocysteine, which when it builds up in your blood, is correlated with an increased risk of clotting and deterioration of artery walls. For this reason, Folate is believed to be a factor in preventing heart disease. Also, a deficiency of Folate could lead to a Vitamin B12 deficiency.

You may not know that alcoholics are at a higher risk for Folic Acid deficiency, so this is one of several good reasons not to consume alcohol when you are pregnant.

Whatever your age, it is important to get enough Folate in your diet, but if there is a possibility that you could soon end up eating for two, it is even more vital.

Eat and be healthy with my warmest regards,

Click here to go from Folic Acid page to Healthy Eating Support home page.

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