Folic acid is a friend to any woman of childbearing age. Folic Acid Awareness Week, observed during the second week of January, brings attention to a vitamin crucial to all of us, especially women who are either pregnant or may become pregnant. An essential B vitamin, folic acid supports cardiovascular, brain, and neural health. Our bodies use folic acid to produce new cells, thus making it important in the development of a strong, healthy fetus.
Folic Acid Awareness Week - History
Folic acid was added to food
Folic acid began to make an appearance in enriched flour, rice, pasta, and bread in the U.S.
Multivitamins got a folic acid boost
Some companies started launching vitamins that contained folic acid — perfect for women of childbearing age.
Folate was discovered
Dr. Lucy Wills fist discovered that folate was needed in order to prevent anemia in pregnancy, thus launching further research into the importance of folic acid.
Spina bifida appeared in a textbook for the first time
The textbook, "Observationes Medicae," written by Dr. Nicholas Tulp, mentioned spina bifida for the first time in print.
How to Observe Folic Acid Awareness Week
1. Learn about birth defects
A lack of folic acid can lead to some unfortunate neural tube defects in unborn babies. Take the time to better inform yourself about the ways which some can be prevented. Knowledge is power.
2. Spread the word on social media
Help call attention to Folic Acid Awareness Week by giving it some love on your social media accounts. The more people who know about the importance of folic acid, the better.
3. Incorporate more folic acid into your diet
We all can benefit from a little extra folic acid in our diets. Luckily, getting this important B vitamin is pretty darn easy. There are a ton of multivitamins out there that contain folic acid, and many foods like grains, pasta, and cereals are fortified with folic acid.
4 Foods You Can Eat Right Now To Boost Your Folic Acid Levels
Bananas aren't just potassium powerhouses, they also contain 6 percent of the daily recommended amount of folic acid.
Break out the guacamole; avocados contain a ton of heart-healthy fat and folate.
3. Leafy greens
Green smoothies made with kale or spinach are all the rage, but did you know that just one cup of spinach contains 15 percent of the amount of folate you should consume in a day?
Believe it or not, cooked broccoli contains even more folate than raw broccoli — nearly a quarter of your recommended daily intake.
Why Folic Acid Awareness Week is Important
A. Folic acid makes healthy babies
Babies are serious business. According to the CDC, a pregnant mom who gets adequate amounts of folic acid reduces the risk of spina bifida and anencephaly by around 70 percent. That's definitely a reason to pop a prenatal vitamin!
B. It brings attention to birth defects
Folic Acid Awareness Week happens in January — which is also National Birth Defects Prevention Month. Let's do our part to reduce the chances of babies being born with some possibly preventable illnesses.
C. It encourages women to start taking folic acid before becoming pregnant
A ton of crucial fetal development happens within the first few weeks of pregnancy, a time when many moms-to-be usually have no idea that they are even expecting. Doctors typically encourage women of childbearing age to either take a multivitamin or eat foods rich in folic acid before becoming pregnant.