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Folate and Folic Acid

Folic acid is a synthetic type of compound which is commonlyused in the production of fortified foods and dietary supplements. Itsscientific name is pteroylmonoglutamic acid. It is a vitamin which is easilysoluble in water and is not associated with any type of toxicity. When taken inlarger amounts, it can be of great help when it comes to correcting anemiacaused by vitamin B12 deficiency. It still needs to be pointed out that folic acidcannot be used for prevention of various different types of neurologicconsequences of vitamin B12 deficiency. According to several healthcareagencies, the upper intake limit of synthetic type of folic acid is 1000micrograms per day. Folate is actually something different and it representsall different sorts of compounds which are characterized by the vitaminproperties of folic acid. This includes the folic acid itself and also certainother compounds which occur naturally in foods. Diet of an average woman in theUnited States usually includes 200 micrograms of folate which is found naturallyin the foods. Folic acid is much more bioavailable than naturally occurringfolate. There is no scientific data which would show that additional amountsof folate would be of any help in preventing the occurrence of neural tube defects in thesame way that folic acid supplements are. The amounts of folate in the bloodare increased much more easily by taking folic acid in its supplementary formthan by consuming folate in its naturally occurring form. Various social oreconomic problems may make it rather hard for a person to ingest sufficientamounts of naturally occurring folate so that is why most women who wish to getpregnant need to get hold of folic acid supplements. Most different forms ofmultivitamin preparations contain the recommended daily dose of folic acid.Tablets with folic acid can easily be purchased in most well equippedpharmacies everywhere across the country, but they are usually a lot lesspopular than the aforementioned multivitamin preparations. Higher dosage folicacid tablets can only be purchased with a prescription.


It is a widely known fact that folic acid is highlyrecommended to all women capable of becoming pregnant because it is veryefficient in preventing various different forms of neural tube defects.According to certain studies, folic acid may come in very handy when it comesto prevention of anencephaly and spina bifida. The recommended daily dose offolic acid is somewhere around 400 micrograms, but women who have already had apregnancy associated with neural tube defects need to increase that recommendeddaily dosage up to 4000 micrograms per day. This increased dosage needs to beingested on a regular daily basis at least for one month before the actualconception and it needs to last all the way through the first trimester ofpregnancy.

Relevant Statistical Data

Neural tube defects are rather frequent birth defectsand they are among the main causes of infant disability and even mortality. Themost common ones include encephalocele, spina bifida and anencephaly. Neuraltube defects occur in one out of 1000 births in the United States. More than4,000 pregnant women in the United States have the baby affected by neural tube effects. Atleast one thousand of such pregnancies get terminated or lost spontaneously.There are 2,500 children with neural tube defects born in the United Stateseach year. Several scientific studies have shown that all these problems may beprevented by taking folic acid supplements, especially when combined withsufficient amounts of folate. In most cases, children affected by a neuraltube defect are born to parents who do not have any family history of anysimilar medical condition. Folic acid supplements are very important andall women need to be well aware of them and their superior benefits, becauseanother statistical fact shows that approximately 50 percent of pregnancies inthe United States are not planned. Another important fact is that the closureof neural tube takes place during the first month of gestation. According tosome polls, there are still more than 70 percent of women in the United Stateswho do not follow the recommendations concerning the folic acid supplementationdescribed above. Women who already experienced pregnancies connected with neuraltube defects are at increased risk of suffering from the same problem overagain, so they need to ingest larger dosages each day, starting one monthbefore the conception and ending after the first three months of pregnancy.This should not be achieved by taking over-the-counter multivitaminpreparations because that may lead to vitamin toxicity due to higher levels ofother vitamins. Women who are at a higher risk need to consult a doctorin order to get prescribed with a higher dosage of folic acid tablets.

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