Get Your Folic Acid Fix
By Jill Provost
Get your folic acid fix! Most of us know the prenatal perks of folic acid: Taking this B vitamin during early pregnancy helps prevent serious brain and spinal cord defects in developing babies.
However, new research suggests that it may help prevent autism, too. According to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, women who take folic acid, or folate, before and during their pregnancy are 40 percent less likely to have an autistic baby.
Even if you’re not in baby-making mode, that’s no reason to forego folic acid. Vitamin B9, as it’s also known, prevents birth defects only when taken at least a month before getting pregnant and during the first few weeks of pregnancy (before a woman usually knows she’s pregnant). Because nearly half of all pregnancies are unplanned, it’s important that all women get their folic acid fix — even if they’re not planning on expanding their family any time soon.
Besides the bonuses it can provide a baby, folic acid does your body good, too. You need it to produce red blood cells, prevent anemia and keep your DNA (the building blocks of your cells) functioning properly.
Only about 25 percent of women get the recommended amount of 400 mcg of folic acid a day. Telltale signs that you might not be getting enough: gray hair, mouth sores, gingivitis and fatigue.
Here’s how to get the recommended daily allowance.
Supplement your diet