Food Storage & Other Adventures in Motherhood

Folic Acid A Key To Healthy Babies

by heather

When I saw this headline on the cover of yesterday’s paper (sorry I was going to link to the article, but for some reason the Sunday cover story isn’t listed on the Salt Lake Trib’s website, weird I know), I was a little surprised, I mean research proved this in the 1980’s. The problem is that health care officials and educators assume that people know this and they stop harping on the matter, but every year a new group of women enter their child bearing years and need to hear this information. And even though I have gotten on this soapbox before, I am going to share a few important facts about folic acid and urge moms everywhere to share this with their friends and with their daughters.

  • Folic acid occurs naturally in foods like fruits and vegetables, but our bodies absorb it best in it’s synthetic form. To get your daily RDA of folic acid from your diet you would have to eat 200 red apples.
  • Insufficient folic acid can lead to birth defects (or defects that result in miscarriage) including defects of the brain, skull, spine, heart, arms, legs, face, hard palate (cleft lip and/or palate) and urinary tract. A mother can reduce the risk of her child having these defects by 50-70% by taking 400 micrograms of folic acid a day.
  • The most crucial time for you to be getting folic acid is in the first 28 days of pregnancy. Most women don’t even know that they’re pregnant in the first 28 days. 
  • Hince why, EVERY woman in her child bearing years should take a folic acid supplement.
  • Folic acid is used to create and repair DNA (necessary for cell production), which is why it is so vital during early pregnancy. The first 28 days are when your little bundle of joy goes from 2 microscopic cells to a something with a heart beat. Isn’t that just phenomenal to think about?
  • Folic acid is crucial not just for the growing baby, but mom too. During pregnancy folic acid demands increase because it is needed to produce the new cells that are making up the increased blood volume, and general increased everything that come with pregnancy.
  • According to a March of Dimes survey in 2009, only 11% of women took folic acid before pregnancy.
  • Apparently there is a myth going around that multi-vitamins will make you fat. This is false. However, if your multi-vitamin has iron in it and you’re not drinking enough water, it can make you constipated which can lead to bloating and discomfort. Stay well hydrated and you should be fine. 
  • Since 1998 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration mandated that folic acid be added to white flour, bread and pasta, which has resulted in about 1000 fewer children born with neural tube defects each year. 
  • Many Hispanic women have genetic deficiency that interferes with the metabolism of folic acid. Which means that they should be taking even more folic acid.
  • The average life-time cost of spina bifida per person in the United States is $532,000. 
  • Currently the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the March of Dimes, and the Spina Bifida Association along with corn and flour tortilla manufacturers are working with the FDA to supplement corn tortillas, a staple for many Hispanic diets. It is estimated to cost $3 million per year, but will save $145 million in direct medical costs for defects.
  • If you are a woman living in Utah you can sign up for free vitamins at 

8 Responses to “Folic Acid A Key To Healthy Babies”

  1. Jocelyn Christensen says:

    On your comment: yes! I've converted one person at least! LOL Apparently living next door to me isn't enough of an incentive! But it would be fun!

  2. Mormon Mommy Blogs says:

    WOW! I did not know that. Thanks for sharing!

  3. The Atomic Mom says:

    I always remember seeing posters about this inthe Smith Family Living Ctr at BYU. My OB acutally tells her patients to start taking pre-natal vits at least a month before they go off of contraceptives. I find that the prenatals are too much for my system when I pregnant, even with fiber, stool softeners, water, etc. So I take 2 children's vitamins and a folic acid supplement. I get all the same nutrients, but it just seems to work better on my system. This was a very informative post, thanks for sharing it. :)

  4. Heather says:

    Taking children's vitamins and folic acid was something my old OB suggested too. They often go down better because they are either iron free or low-iron. (When I was 2 my mom learned the hard way to not buy vitamins with iron. She was really sick, paying less attention to me and didn't notice that while I was watching cartoons I had eaten an entire bottle's worth until I was finished. First and only overdose.) But no matter how you get it folic acid is crucial. If you can't handle the iron in prenatal vitamins (I know I sure can't), you can get plain folic acid supplements for cheap OTC.

  5. Ailinh Harris says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this! It really is something all women need to read, pregnant or not.

  6. Barb says:

    LOVE this post!! Thank you so much. Just visiting from MMB…here's my two bits…

    I have a seizure disorder and am on medicine that is more likely to cause neural tube defects (spina bifida etc) and have to take 5x the regular 400mg of folic acid a day & will always have to during my child bearing years as a precaution. I'm preggo with baby #2 and so far so good!

    My first was born totally normal and healthy and I definitely know the folic acid had a lot to do with it. Awesome informative post!

    I'd love to pass it on to my readers at, via copy & paste, and link back to your site. Let me know if you'd be interested in guest posting! Thanks again!!

  7. Barb says:

    Oh and that folic acid dose is on top of regular prenatals…gotta love all the pill popping we do for these kiddos! =)

  8. foods high in folic acid says:

    This is my second visit to this blog. We are starting a new initiative in the same category as this blog. Your blog provided us with valuable information to work on. You have done a admirable job!

    foods high in folic acid

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