Women who receive prenatal care are urged to take extra folic acid- it’s important in helping to prevent many birth defects, including spina bifida (incomplete formation of the spine). What many people don’t know is that folic acid is important for everyone to take, regardless if you are having or planning to have a baby!
Folic acid is a B vitamin, and it has many benefits, including helping the body to build new cells. Our bodies are constantly building new cells, including cells in the hair, skin and fingernails, which are frequently damaged by cosmetics and environmental factors. Folic acid also helps keep our blood healthy- if we don’t get enough folic acid, we may develop anemia (a low red blood cell count).
It’s important to know that the medications you take may deplete folic acid from your body. If you take medication for seizures, rheumatoid arthritis, or Type 2 diabetes (just to name a few!), you should consider supplementing with folic acid. If you have celiac disease, or if you drink more than one alcoholic beverage daily, you may also be at risk for folic acid depletion. Some medications work better with plenty of folic acid on board, such as antidepressants.
You can increase your daily folic acid intake by incorporating green leafy vegetables (like spinach), beans and whole grains into your diet. Watch for the words “folate” and “vitamin B9” on the nutrition labels of products you buy to see if they’re enriched with folic acid. However, our busy lives make it difficult to get all the nutrients we need from food alone. That’s when high quality supplements come in handy!
If you’re concerned about the amount of folic acid in your diet, stop by your local CarePro Pharmacy, or visit Advance Health. Our knowledgeable pharmacists can help you choose a supplement to fit your lifestyle and dietary needs.
Sources: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/folicacid/index.html; http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/folic-acid.cfm#a