Folic Acid & Multivitamins

Make your life simple: take a multivitamin with folic acid!

Busy juggling family, friends and life? STOP! Remember to take a multivitamin with folic acid to maximize your ENERGY and GROWTH potential! Folic acid is a water-soluble B vitamin women need daily for optimal energy production and healthy baby growth and development. It is important to take 400 micrograms of folic acid every day to maximize your potential!

Eating a healthy diet is always important, but a multivitamin is the most absorbable, dependable and preferred way to get the daily dose of folic acid you need.

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To find out more about folic acid check out these tabs:

Folic acid works for you and your family!

Maximize your energy potential: Take folic acid. Remember, folic acid is a necessary nutrient that supports your body’s needs for energy, growth and development. Your body requires folic acid for cell growth and reproduction, fundamental building block processing and genetic material production.

Take folic acid for your children!

Whether or not you already have kids or are thinking about having children, you should make sure you get enough folic acid every day. Take a multivitamin containing 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day and eat a healthy diet. Research has found that the folic acid found in vitamin form or man-made form is easier for your body to absorb and use than the natural version, folate.

All women should take a multivitamin containing 400 micrograms of folic acid every day and eat a healthy diet to maximize energy production, growth and development. If all women of childbearing age took 400 mcg of folic acid, the incidence of neural tube defects, like spina bifida, in the United States would decrease by 70 percent. Give yourself and your family the gift of life: Take a multivitamin with 400 micrograms folic acid every day!

If you or someone in your family has a history of neural tube defects (NTDs), you need to take more folic acid when planning a pregnancy. Be sure to take the time to talk with your doctor about taking folic acid. Some women require a folic acid intake of 4,000 micrograms one month prior to becoming pregnant and during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. Ongoing check-ups with your doctor are recommended during pregnancy.

NTDs are a group of serious birth defects of the brain and spine that occur before most women are even aware that they are pregnant. The most common NTDs are spina bifida and anencephaly. While scientists don't completely understand how folic acid prevents birth defects, there is plenty of evidence that it does. That’s why the standard recommendation is for all women to take a multivitamin containing 400 micrograms of folic acid every day.

Take folic acid for your family!

Some research indicates that sufficient folic acid intake in men and women may protect against heart disease, stroke and certain kinds of cancers. Be proactive: incorporate rich folic acid sources into your family’s daily routine!

Folic acid isn’t just for women of childbearing age: Men, children and seniors need it too. Children need less folic acid than adults. The recommended daily dietary allowance for children ages 1 to 13 is between 50-300 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid. Once a young female begins menstruating, she’ll need to bump up her intake to 400 micrograms a day.

Men should also get 400 micrograms of folic acid or folate from food every day. Folic acid is needed to make new cells in the body no matter your gender or age. Your body continues to make new cells for your body, including your skin, blood, hair and stomach. Folic acid may be important for men’s reproductive health and has been associated with higher sperm counts and density.**

Folic acid also has been associated with reducing the risk for some chronic diseases. Some studies show that higher levels of homocysteine (pronounced hoe-moe-SIS-teen), an amino acid found in the blood, may increase the risk for cardiovascular disease. By helping to reduce the amount of homocysteine, folic acid may help lessen the risk for heart disease. Although research has not conclusively confirmed that folic acid can lower the rates of serious diseases, studies so far have shown promising results.1

It’s also important for seniors to get all the nutrients they need, including folic acid. Check with your health care provider before taking over-the-counter pills, such as a multivitamin, folic acid pill or herbal supplement. In rare cases, folic acid intakes greater than 1,000 micrograms per day may delay the diagnosis of a vitamin B12 deficiency, which can cause serious problems with nerve function if undetected. This 1,000-microgram ceiling only applies to folic acid from vitamin supplements or fortified foods. Most supplements only have 400 micrograms of folic acid, but you should look at all of your sources of folic acid. This, however, does not apply to the folate you get naturally from folate-rich foods. That’s because the folic acid in supplements and fortified foods is more easily absorbed by the body compared to natural food folate. It’s a good idea to have your doctor test you for a vitamin B12 deficiency before you start taking folic acid supplements.2

More information can be found here: Folic Acid FAQs (PDF)

Sources: Wallock, L. M., Tamura, T., Mayr, C. A., Johnson, K. E., Ames, B. N., and Jacob, R. A. (2001). Low seminal plasma folate concentrations are associated with low sperm density and count in male smokers and nonsmokers. Fertility and Sterility. 75(2):252-259. Florida Folic Acid Coalition, http://www.folicacidnow.net/seniors.htm

It’s so easy!

Take a multivitamin and enjoy life as a smart, happy, healthy and physically active woman!

Eating a healthy diet is always important, but a multivitamin is the most absorbable, dependable and preferred way to get the daily dose of folic acid you need.

All women should take a multivitamin containing 400 micrograms of folic acid every day and eat a healthy diet for optimal energy production, growth and development. Doing this enables women who may become pregnant to maximize their body’s folate levels and reduce their chance of having a baby with serious neural tube birth defects. Give yourself and your family the gift of life: Take a 400-microgram folic acid multivitamin daily!

More reasons to get your folic acid from a multivitamin:

  • Folate, the folic acid form found in foods, is not absorbed and used by your body as well as the folic acid present in multivitamins.
  • Although folate is found in many foods, it’s hard to get it from food alone, even if you eat healthy everyday.
  • Folate found in foods is extremely sensitive; cooking and storage often destroy the folate content in foods.

Additional multivitamin benefits!

If you are worried about getting all the nutrients you need every day, take a multivitamin so you will get consistent amounts of vitamins A, C, B6, E and others. A multivitamin alone will not guarantee good nutrition and health; this is why good eating habits and following the Dietary Guidelines for Americans is very important.

Folic Acid and Folate-Rich Food Sources

Can’t I get enough folic acid if I eat a healthy diet?

If you are wondering about whether or not you can get enough folic acid from foods, then the answer is maybe. You would have to pay super close attention to the nutritional content of everything you ate. And face it, in this busy world, very few of us have time to tally up all of our nutrients every day.

However, it is true that there are many foods that contain folic acid or folate, the naturally occurring version. Some foods have folic acid added during manufacturing. An example is breakfast cereal, which may have 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid added per serving. However, in most cases, the added folic acid is not enough to prevent neural tube defects (NTDs); that’s why it’s important to check the label. Some general folic acid food guidelines include:

  • Choosing grain products labeled “enriched” or “fortified”
  • Eating five servings of fruits and vegetables every day
  • Cooking vegetables lightly in a little water Steaming, stir-frying or microwaving your vegetables
  • Drinking all the milk in the bowl if you eat a folic acid-fortified cereal (folic acid is water soluble and will dissolve into the milk)
Visit choosemyplate.gov to learn more about how to build a healthy diet.

Use the following chart to find out what some of the best food sources of folic acid are. The sources are listed as excellent, very good, or good, and may contain natural or man-made folic acid. Even with all these food sources of folic acid, you still may not get the recommended 400 mcg of folic acid. That is why it is important to take a multivitamin with folic acid every day.

Other unexpected places you’ll find folic acid or folate:
  • Fortified soy milk. Check the label since some types have more than others. Cow’s milk does not contain folate.
  • Nutritional yeast, which has a nutty, cheesy, creamy flavor that makes it popular as an ingredient in cheese substitutes.
  • Fortified beverages, like VitaminWater, Ensure and Slim-Fast. Read the label: The different flavors often contain different nutrients.
Nutritional cereal or energy bars, like Pria, PowerBar, Genisoy and LUNA bars. Again, always check the label for folic acid content.

Remember! While you can get folic acid through the foods you eat, the best way to ensure that you get enough folic acid is to take a multivitamin with 400 mcg of folic acid every day!
Neural tube defects (NTDs) are a group of serious birth defects including spina bifida and anencephaly that occur before most women are even aware that they are pregnant. NTDs happen when the neural tube, which forms the brain and spine, fails to close properly around the fourth week of pregnancy. This can result in physical abnormalities that can vary from minor to fatal.

NTDs are common birth defects and occur in about 200 pregnancies each year in North Carolina.

While scientists don’t completely understand how folic acid prevents NTDs there is ample evidence to suggest that it does. That’s why the standard recommendation is for women to take a multivitamin containing 400 micrograms of folic acid every day.

Spina bifida

Spina bifida is a condition that affects the spine and is usually apparent at birth.  Spina bifida can happen anywhere along the spine if the neural tube does not close all the way. The backbone that protects the spinal cord does not form and close as it should. This often results in damage to the spinal cord and nerves.

Spina bifida might cause physical and mental disabilities that range from mild to severe.  The severity depends on:

The size and location of the opening in the spine. Whether part of the spinal cord and nerves are affected.

Some of the disabilities caused by spina bifida are leg paralysis, bladder and bowel problems, and/or other serious health complications. In most cases, the larger the defect is or the higher it occurs on the spine, the greater the disability. Children born with this condition usually require surgery in the first few days of life. Most people with spina bifida need to use a wheelchair or leg braces throughout their life.

Some people with spina bifida have little or no noticeable disability. Others are limited in the way they can move or function. They even might be paralyzed (unable to walk or move parts of the body). Even so, with the right care, most people affected by spina bifida will be able to grow up to lead full and productive lives.

Anencephaly

Anencephaly (an-en-sef-uh-lee) is a serious birth defect in which a baby is born without parts of the brain and skull. This defect happen during the first month of pregnancy, usually before a woman knows she is pregnant. As the neural tube forms and closes, it helps form the baby’s brain and skull (upper part of the neural tube), spinal cord, and back bones (lower part of the neural tube).

Anencephaly happens if the upper part of the neural tube does not close all the way. This often results in a baby being born without the front part of the brain (forebrain) and the thinking and coordinating part of the brain (cerebrum). The remaining parts of the brain are often not covered by bone or skin.

Unfortunately, almost all babies born with anencephaly will die shortly after birth. CDC estimates that each year, about 1 in every 4,859 babies in the United States will be born with anencephaly.

Other birth defects

Folic acid might help to prevent some other birth defects, such as cleft lip and palate and some studies show that it might also protect against some heart defects. There might also be other health benefits of taking folic acid for both women and men. More research is needed to confirm these other health benefits. All adults should take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day.

Content and images provided by Division of Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The original content can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/spinabifida/facts.html and http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/birthdefects/Anencephaly.html.

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