GAINESVILLE, Fla. — October is Folic Acid Awareness Month in Florida, and to educate the University of Florida community about this important nutrient, the Florida Folic Acid Coalition and the March of Dimes, North Central Florida Division will offer a pre-Halloween treat on campus.
The two organizations are sponsoring a free "grab-and-go" breakfast featuring foods rich in folic acid, such as bagels and oranges, from 8 to 10 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30 on the Reitz Union Colonnade. Multivitamins and folic acid information will be available at the event.
The vitamin folic acid, or folate, is an essential nutrient people need every day, said Gail Rampersaud, a registered dietitian and one of the leaders of the coalition, which is based in UF’s food science and human nutrition department, part of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Faculty members Gail Kauwell and Lynn Bailey also help lead the coalition.
Folic acid is best known for reducing the risk of certain birth defects of the brain and spine, known as neural tube defects, she said. For this reason, the U.S. Public Health Service recommends women of childbearing age get 400 micrograms of folic acid daily.
Options include taking a multivitamin with folic acid or eating a serving of fortified breakfast cereal that contains 100 percent of the Daily Value of the vitamin. In addition to getting folic acid from these sources, eating foods that contain the natural form of the vitamin is important. Good choices include orange juice, strawberries, green leafy vegetables, and legumes such as peanuts, dried beans and dried peas.
A 2006 Gallup Poll conducted by the March of Dimes indicated that younger women – ages 18-24 – are the least likely to take a multivitamin containing folic acid on a daily basis, Rampersaud said.
"Many women in this age group are in college or just starting careers, and they aren’t thinking of their long-term health or starting a family," she said. "But it’s important that they do and they need to be made aware of the many health benefits of folic acid."
Folic acid is used in production of new cells, including blood cells, skin and hair, Rampersaud said. It may also help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, certain cancers and cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
For more information on folic acid, visit folicacidnow.net or marchofdimes.com, or call the Florida Folic Acid Coalition at (352) 392-1978 x423 or the March of Dimes, North Central Florida Division at (352) 378-9522.
Gail Rampersaud – email@example.com, (352) 392-1978 x423
Gail Kauwell – firstname.lastname@example.org, (352) 392-1991 x227
Lynn Bailey – email@example.com, (352) 392-1991 x213