National Folic Acid Awareness Week, observed during the second week of January every year (January 4– 10 this year), brings much-needed attention to this crucial vitamin that is especially important to women who are either pregnant or may become pregnant. This is because folic acid in one’s diet is a key weapon in the fight against folate deficiency anemia in infants. In fact, if taken before conception and during early pregnancy, folic acid can also prevent up to 70% of some neural tube defects (serious birth defects of the brain and spine).
The powerful B vitamin has been and continues to be added to staples such as flour and pasta, and it is also found in high proportions in unaltered foods like leafy greens, bread and legumes. It supports cardiovascular, brain, and neural health. Our bodies use folic acid to produce new cells, thus making it important in the development of a strong, healthy fetus.
So get in tune with the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Birth Defects Prevention Network (NBDPN), eat your broccoli and get that folic acid in your system!
History of Folic Acid Awareness Week
Folic Acid Awareness Week has been recognized as a part of the CDC-backed National Birth Defects Prevention Month since January of 1997. The CDC and NBDPN hold an annual joint convention to review the information gathered on birth defects during the year prior and to share new scientific discoveries, successful medical practices, and natal wellness in general. The yearly report may use words like “surveillance,” but that only refers to data collection in general, not surreptitious observation of unknowing mothers-to-be. The idea is that the more information is collated and analyzed, the more medical professionals will be able to help families give birth to healthy, alert, and button-cute babies.
The quick-reference number for the amount of folic acid or vitamin B9 (and we like how that sounds like, ‘benign,’ don’t you?) that women should consume each day is 400 micrograms. But that can be intimidating to measure and keep track of on your own. An expecting mother should routinely check with her doctor, who can fine-tune those levels for the optimal health of mother and fetus. And just as with every other regimen, like fitness, studying, or learning a new skill at work, your folic acid intake and monitoring will become second nature. If there’s a partner who’s pregnant with you, you may find that cooking vitamin-rich natural meals is enjoyable in its own right, so that you barely have to think about folic acid. There’s lots of other stuff to be aware of, without a doubt.
But this week, we urge you to pay strict attention to this one preventative measure. Not only that, but spread the word to friends and family who may not have the current information. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, especially when certain defects have no cure at all!