Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic providers stress importance of Folic Acid
Dietitians at Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic are helping women learn more ways to have a healthy pregnancy, starting with the proper amount of folic acid added to their diet.
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 serious birth defects of the brain and spine, called neural tube defects.
"Nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned. That is why 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. “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.”
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,” Hackenmueller explained.
Women are encouraged to visit their clinic, and speak with a dietitian about ways to add folic acid to your diet.