Friday, January 05, 2007

Whole Grains May Lead to Folate Deficiency

Some Interesting News...

Women in the United States are not eating enough folate, says a survey by government researchers. According to the study's authors, two-thirds of women do not eat the recommended daily amount of the vitamin, which helps to prevent severe birth defects.

Source: "Folate Levels Dropping"

Folate is a natural form of vitamin B found in leafy green vegetables, fruits, and dried beans and peas. Folic acid is the synthetic form of the vitamin.

Since 1998, enriched breads and cereals have been fortified with folic acid; however, in recent years, natural, unprocessed grains have become more popular. Medical experts think this may have caused the drop in folate levels in women.

"The MMWR findings are very disturbing. Folic acid is the most important vitamin that women can take to help prevent serious birth defects of the brain and spine, and it's most important that they start consuming it before they get pregnant and continuing into early pregnancy," said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes.

Source: March of Dimes news release

All women of childbearing age should be sure they are consuming at least 400 mcg per day of folate or folic acid, either in their diet or through supplements, according to the National Institute of Health's folate page.

In addition to birth defects, low folate levels can also cause anemia and other health problems.

Other signs of folate deficiency are often subtle. Digestive disorders such as diarrhea, loss of appetite, and weight loss can occur, as can weakness, sore tongue, headaches, heart palpitations, irritability, forgetfulness, and behavioral disorders. An elevated level of homocysteine in the blood, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, also can result from folate deficiency.

Source: National Institute of Health.

Folate is an important vitamin for all of us. However, if your folate level is too high, it can trigger a vitamin B12 deficiency. Senior citizens (like me!) shouldn't take folic acid supplements without also taking B12 according to the NIH. The multivitamin I'm currently taking (a Sam's Club equivalent of Centrum) contains 100% of the US RDA of folic acid and 400% of the US RDA of B12.

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.