Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic Providers Stress Importance of Folic Acid
Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic dietitians are helping women learn ways to have a healthy pregnancy, starting with the proper amount of folic acid added to their diet.
January 7-13 is National Folic Acid Awareness Week, and Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic providers are stressing the importance of folic acid in a healthy pregnancy.
Folic acid is a B-vitamin that is necessary for proper cell growth. If taken before and during early pregnancy, folic acid can prevent up to 70 percent of some serious birth defects of the brain and spine, called neural tube defects.
“We recommend all women take a multi-vitamin including folic acid and vitamin D for good health. Making this habit before pregnancy helps to ensure baby has adequate folic acid from the beginning of conception,” Dietitian Stacy Hackenmueller said.
National experts agree: women need folic acid even if they are not planning to become pregnant since almost half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned.
“Supplementing with folic acid is easy, all multivitamins and prenatal vitamins have it, including the gummies. The important thing is to get started right away, don’t wait until your first visit with your OB,” Hackenmueller added.
Women can also add folic acid in their diet by eating fortified foods like grains, pastas, beans, peas, and leafy greens or breakfast cereals.
“Breakfast cereal is one way you can add folic acid in your diet. As a bonus it is usually well tolerated by pregnant women, even in the first trimester. Look for one that is high in fiber and low in sugar,” she added.
When looking for cereal with folic acid, Hackenmueller says to choose one that has 100 percent of the daily recommended value of folic acid. A single serving of many breakfast cereals has the amount of folic acid that a woman needs each day.
“You can look at the nutrition label on the side of the cereal box for the serving size and percent of daily value,” she explained.
Women are encouraged to visit their clinic, and speak with a dietitian about ways to add folic acid to your diet.