National Folic Acid Awareness week 4-10 January 2021

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Ms. Tulasi, Consultant Dietitian, KIMS Hospitals, Sec-bad.


 National Folic acid awareness week, observed  during the first full week of january every year(jan 4-10), 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 deficieny anemia in infants.In fact if taken before conception and during early pregnany, folic acid can also prevent up to 70% of some neural tubal defects(serious birth defects o fthe brain and spine.)

 Folic acid Awareness week has been recognized as  a part of the CDC(centers for disease control and prevention)-backed National Birth Defects Prevention Month since january of 1997.

 Are folic acid and Folate are same thing?

Though the two terms are often used interchangeably, there is a difference between them. While ‘Folate’ describes the several  different forms of vitamin B 9 that occurs naturally as in citrus fruits and leafy greens, ‘Folic acid’ refers to the artificially added vitamin that is used to enrich flours, pastas, and breads to specifically assist in preventing certain birth defects.


Prolonged inadequate diets, inadequate absorption, inadequate use of folic acid caused by genetic aberrations resulting in reduced methylation of folic acid, and increased requirements resulting from pregnancy or growth are believed to be the most frequent causes.

Other causes are gluten-induced enteropathy (childhood and adult celiac disease),

idiopathic steatorrhea, nontropical sprue, and use of certain drugs (anticonvulsants, barbiturates, cycloserine, sulfasalazine, cholestyramine, and metformin), amino acid excess (glycine and methionine), and alcohol.

  Why it is Important?

 1.     It helps in body make healthy new red blood cells.

2.     With out enough folate, a person can also develop a type of anemia called folate deficiency anemia.

3.     It is particularly important to get enough folate during pregnancy. Folate deficiency during pregnancy can lead to neural tube irregularities, such as Spina bifida and anencephaly.

4.     Because of its importance for health the Food and Drug Administration(FDA) require manufactures to add folic acid to enriched bread, pasta, rice cereals, and other grains, by this introduction the number of babies born with NTB(neural tubal defect) has decreased.

5.     Taking folic acid supplements before and during pregnancy will help prevent NTB in the fetus.

6.     It may also reduce the risk of preterm birth,heart irregularities, and cleft palate, among other things.

7.     Some research suggests that taking folic acid before and during early pregnancy could reduce the chance that the baby will have autism.

 Folic acid supplements could have an few impacts on:

 NTB(Neural tubal irregularities):

•         Taking folic acid supplements before and during pregnancy will help prevent NTB irregularities in fetus.

•         It may reduce the risk of pretem births, heart irregularities, and cleft palate.

Depression: People with lower levels of folate may be more likely to experience depression. However, taking folic acid supplements could make depression medication  more effective.

 Autism: Taking folic acid before and during early pregnancy could reduce the chance that the baby will have autism.

  Rheumatoid arthritis:

•         Folic acid to support a  methotrexate prescription for RA.

•         Methothrexate is an effective medication for this condition, but it may remove folate from the body, causing gastrointestinal symptoms.

 Who should take folic acid?

 All pregnant women and women who might become pregnant take folic acid.(This is because folic acid is crucial for early fetal development. The spinal cord is one of the first part of the body to form, and folate deficiency can lead to spinal cord irregularities).

 Recommended intake: Pregnant women:400-800 mcg of folic acid /day

Lactating mothers should aim to get around 500mcg per/day.

 Sources of folic acid:

Fresh, uncooked fruits and vegetables are good sources of folate,Dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach ,brocolli, cabbage, brussels sprouts , lettuce,beets avocado,green peas,hard boiled egg,papaya, banana,dry peanuts, fresh orange.

 Note: As long as you don’t overcook them.The longer vegetables are submerged in water, the more vitamins seep out so steaming or microwave is preferable.


Folate deficiency occurs when there is not enough folate in the body.This can lead to a type of anemia called megaloblastic anemia.During pregnancy, folate deficiency increases the risk of congenital irregularities.

 Symptoms of folate deficiency:



Trouble concentrating


Heart palpitation

 Side effects:

•         There are no serious side effects associated with taking too much folic acid.

•         Folic acid is water soluble, so any excess will naturally pass through urine.

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