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AbstractBefore they may even know they are pregnant; women’s bodies and their level of folate play a critical role in preventing certain birth defects, specifically neural tube defects (NTDs). NTDs are birth defects in the brain, spinal cord, or spine. Considered ‘one of the most important public health discoveries of this century’ is that daily supplemental folic acid taken before becoming pregnant significantly reduces the risk of NTDs (1). In 1998, the United States made sweeping efforts that fortified cereal grains with folic acid to ensure all Americans consume adequate amounts of this vitamin. So what exactly is folate? What are the functions of this vitamin? What foods have high levels of folate and what is the recommended daily intake? This article will answer these questions and will go on to explain folic acid fortification and the impact fortification has had on the incidence of NTDs in Arizona.
Series/Report no.University of Arizona Cooperative Extension Service and Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin
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