The holidays have come and gone, and many of us are working hard at New Year’s resolutions to try and improve our health. While focusing on exercise, weight management, and healthy eating, don’t forget folic acid.
Folic acid is a vitamin that is essential to many bodily functions. Additionally, it is essential for a healthy pregnancy. Taking the recommended 400 micrograms of folic acid a day can significantly reduce the risk of brain and spinal cord defects called neural tube defects.
As we campaign to prevent birth defects, folic acid is a great starting point. It becomes part of our diet when we consume green leafy vegetables, beans, and meats. It is also found in fortified cereals and breads. Unfortunately, only 1/3 of women of childbearing age consume the recommended amount from diet alone. To make up the difference, there are over the counter supplements that can and should be taken regularly.
When you consider that 50 percent of pregnancies are unplanned, it makes sense that all women of childbearing age should be taking folic acid, pregnant or not. So, while you are planning your exercise regimen and your healthier diet for 2013, don’t forget other healthy habits like folic acid supplementation.