Campaign stresses the importance of getting enough folic acid - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Campaign stresses the importance of getting enough folic acid

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Folic acid can be found in cereal, vegetables, beans, whole grains, and orange juice. Folic acid can be found in cereal, vegetables, beans, whole grains, and orange juice.

Folic acid is critical for women during pregnancy, but the B vitamin is so important, everyone should be getting enough.  That's the focus of a campaign from the Siouxland District Health Department.

Our bodies use folic acid to make new cells. Everyone needs it.

"Everyone can benefit from getting enough folic acid in their diet," says Katrina Harwood, a registered dietician with The Siouxland District Health Department.  "Folic acid can also help protect against heart disease, stroke, and Alzheimer's."

Folic acid also helps protect against birth defects of the baby's brain and spine.  The first four weeks are critical in that development.  And now, new research shows it can help prevent autism.

"Sometimes if women find out they are pregnant and wait until they are eight weeks along to start a prenatal vitamin or prenatal care, then sometimes they miss the boat," says Harwood.

That's why it's especially important for women of child bearing years to get enough everyday, before, during, and after pregnancy.  You'll find folic acid in cereal, vegetables, beans, lentils, whole grains, and orange juice.  If you don't get enough through your diet, a multi-vitamin will do the trick.

"Every woman, everyday needs to have a multiple vitamin or a folic acid supplement," says Jean Sterner, a licensed dietician with The Siouxland District Health Department.

That's the message of the Siouxland District Health Department's campaign.

"These good habits start when they are young," says Sterner.  "It's kind of like wearing a seat belt, or getting your kids to brush their teeth everyday, and so getting them to make sure they get a folic acid supplement every day that when they become old enough to conceive that habit will be in place and we can protect a lot of babies."

About two-thirds of women aren't getting enough folic acid.  You need about 400 micrograms a day.  That can be as easy as eating a bowl of cereal everyday that has 100 percent of the daily value of folic acid.  But check the labels, not all cereals are created equal when it comes to folic acid.

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