Monday, December 21, 2009

Folic Acid and Prenatal Health

A new Study by University of Adelaide's Robinson Institute in Australia found that synthetic and non-natural folic acid supplements taken by mid-to-late-term pregnant mothers may lead to a much higher risk of asthma in the child. LINK Researchers are urging pregnant mothers to continue supplementing with folic acid, however during late stages of pregnancy mothers should switch to natural sources of folate. Folate levels in preconception and prenatal women influence the child's nervous system development. Low levels of folate can lead to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children aged 7 to 9.

Folic acid (folate) is a B-vitamin essential for proper cellular division because it is necessary in DNA synthesis. Without folic acid, the fetus' nervous system cells do not divide properly. Vitamin B is most often found in dark leafy green vegetables. Despite folic acid's wide occurrence in food (it's name comes from the Latin word folium, meaning "foliage," because it's found in green leafy vegetables), folic acid deficiency is the most common vitamin deficiency in the world. Foods with high levels of folate include:

Spinach: spinach offers 25% of the daily value of folate per ½ cup cooked serving. A serving of raw spinach still gives you 15% of the daily value of folate. Try adding fresh spinach leaves to your salad or your favorite fruit smoothie. Add cooked spinach to your lasagna, stir fry meals and soups.

Black-eyed Peas: A half cup serving of black-eyed peas contains 25% of your daily value of folate. Toss them on top of your salad, into stir-fry meals, taco fillings, or as a stand-alone side dish.

White Beans: White beans pack 20% of your daily value into a 1/2 cup serving. They are great added to soups and chilis, or tossed with vinaigrette and spinach for a white bean salad.

Asparagus: Just 4 asparagus spears give you 20% of you daily folate value. Rub them with garlic and put them on the grill or chop them into smaller pieces and toss them with your favorite pasta dish.

Broccoli: A 1/2 cup of frozen, fresh or steamed broccoli offers 15% of your daily folate value! Roast it with garlic as a side dish, toss fresh florettes into your salad or your favorite pasta dish.

Brussel Sprouts: A cup of Brussels sprouts supplies 93.6 mg of folic acid and they're probably my favorite vegetable! These lovely minature looking cabbage heads are delicious sauteed with olive oil and garlic. Simply cut them in half sautee and then top with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.

As with everything health related, natural is what matters. Whole, natural, unprocessed, food free from additives, preservatives and packaging will trump any synthetic, processed supplement.

Keep it Fresh!