Whether you were aware or not, earlier this month we celebrated Folic Acid Awareness week. Though Folic Acid Awareness doesn’t get nearly as much publicity as some other diseases, it certainly shouldn’t be overlooked. As most of us passed by Folic Acid Awareness week rather unaware, many who did pick up on it may have found themselves scratching their heads and wondering; what’s the big deal about folic acid? And why do we need yet another week on our calendars reserved for raising awareness for something that doesn’t affect us? I found a recent article by Rob Masterson, RD to be very enlightening about the importance of this topic. In his article, Health Benefits of Folic Acid, he stresses why folic acid is important for good health and the prevention of birth defects.
A Quick Overview of Folic Acid
Folic Acid (aka folate) is an essential B vitamin, ‘essential’ meaning that we must get it from our diet because our body is unable make it on it’s own. Folate is one of the most vital nutrients for DNA synthesis, cell division, growth and replication, making it critical for periods of rapid cell growth, such as in infancy and pregnancy. This brings us to Spina Bifida, a serious birth defect related to folate deficiency. Though there are several different types of Spina Bifida varying in severity, Spina Bifida often requires surgery because of the malformation that occurs with bones in the spine, causing the spinal cord to protrude through the bones. Though surgery may be successful in some cases, it is very dangerous, and even life threatening to the infant.
Why is Folate Important for the Rest of Us?
Even if you aren’t pregnant, folate is still an important part of a healthy diet. Having an adequate amount regularly can protect us from acquiring anemia and many of the complications associated with it. Some complications of anemia include, weakness, fatigue, hair loss and skin breakdown. And getting enough folate has also been shown to protect against certain types of cancer and dementia.
Where Can I Find Folate?
Rich sources of folate include:
- Spinach and other Dark leafy greens
- Brussel Sprouts and Asparagus
- Mushrooms and Legumes
- Bananas, Melon and Lemon
Even though you may have missed Folic Acid Awareness week, it’s never too late to improve your folate consumption.
Nutrition Lately is a blog written and maintained by a small group of Registered Dietitians. Rob Materson is one of Around the Plate’s Nutrition Experts and is a member of thePlate Community. As a Nutrition Expert, Rob helps others . Find other healthy eating champions, nutrition experts, and recipe gurus on our community blog network.