The second week of January 2014 focuses on National Folic Acid Awareness in the United States.
What is Folic Acid?
Folic acid is a member of the B-vitamin family. It’s a very important vitamin, especially for pregnant women.
This vitamin is responsible for a whole host of bodily functions, and it is especially key for cell division and growth.
Pregnant women need 400 milligrams of folic acid each day for their own health and that of their baby’s. And healthier skin and nails is an additional bonus!
Folic Acid’s Role During Pregnancy
Folic acid aids in healthy formation of the spinal cord, nervous system, and brain, along with other parts of an infant’s body in utero.
It also protects against birth defects related to the brain and spine and contributes to healthier birth weights.
It is estimated that up to seventy percent of all birth defects that affect the brain and spinal cord (neural tube defects) could be prevented by boosting folic acid intake.
How Do I Get More Folic Acid In My Diet?
Luckily, getting your daily 400 milligrams of folic acid is super easy!
The most convenient way to get your daily dose of vitamins is by supplementing with a multi-vitamin that includes folic acid, such as a pre-natal vitamin blend. However, if that is not an option for you, you can get your folic acid levels up with food!
Here are several food groups to consider:
- Fortified cereals: Many cereals today come fortified with a certain amount of vitamins, including folic acid. Just check the labels to know if your favorite breakfast cereal is fortified.
- Lentils: These little legumes pack in a punch of protein and iron. Lentils are a great source of B vitamins. Plus they’re extremely cheap. We recommend trying lentil soup or swapping lentils for ground beef in tacos.
- Liver: Although organ meats don’t always suit everyone’s taste, many love them. Liver helps you reach your folic acid daily recommendation, along with many other key vitamins.
- Enriched pasta: Just like cereal, many pastas are enriched with vitamins and have high folic acid counts.
- Greens: Spinach, kale, collard greens, and essentially all leafy greens are healthy sources of B vitamins. If you don’t already eat your daily greens, this is a great reason to do so!