Here is the sad truth: African-American women are still not getting enough folic acid in their diets which can result in a variety of health concerns especially for those who are pregnant. Many studies have shown that a lack of folic acid can increase a woman’s chance of giving birth to a baby with serious birth defects of the brain and spine called neural tube defects (NTD).
But here is the good news: getting the recommended amount of folic acid is actually easier than we think and one program in San Francisco, Calif., is on a mission to ensure that African-American women get the minimum daily allowance of 400 micrograms (mcg) through a free multi-vitamin distribution program.
The project GO FOLIC! began in 2009 to reach women, especially African-American and Hispanic, living in the city of San Francisco between the ages of 14-44 with information about the importance of folic acid in their daily diets. It aims to express the point that folic acid is a very important B vitamin and is not just an essential element of a healthy pregnancy but also for everyday health. Women can receive a year’s supply of a multi-vitamin with folic acid absolutely free by visiting one of the distribution centers.
One thing to point out is that when the vitamin is eaten naturally through foods, it is folate. Folic acid is actually the man-made form of folate that is found in vitamins and is estimated to be absorbed 100 compared to 50 of folate in food. However, the project does encourage getting the vitamin naturally through the consumption of foods such as leafy green vegetables, beans, liver and some fruits like oranges, raspberries and honeydew. A brochure is available with recipes that are easy to fix and deliciously loaded with folate.
Whether you plan to become pregnant or not, studies have shown that the benefits of folic acid may help reduce the risk of:
- Colon, cervical and other cancers
- Cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis
- Hypertension among younger women
- Pre-eclampsia in pregnant women
In addition, folic acid aids in beauty from the inside out for healthier hair, skin and nails. All the things important to a woman.
As GO FOLIC! enters its third year, over 300 women have received vitamins as part of the program. Recipients can also participate in contests for a chance to win gift cards just for sharing their experience and telling others.
March is nutrition month and if you haven’t done so this year, take a moment to think about your health right now and in the future. Again whether you plan to become pregnant or not, be sure to live a healthy lifestyle full of fruits and vegetables and if necessary a vitamin supplement to not only receive the folic acid you need but to help live longer and stronger.
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