Friday, September 25, 2009

Folic Acid

Folic Acid is recommended for any woman who is or who wants to become pregnant soon. A minimum of 400 mcg (that's micro grams)is recommended daily for those who are trying to conceive or who are pregnant.

Folic Acid helps to prevent Neural Tube Defects (NTD) in a developing fetus.

So where does one find Folic Acid? Folic Acid occurs naturally in many vegetables, legumes, and meats including: spinach, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, peaches, almonds, lentils, and organ meats such as kidney and liver. I don't know about you, but I am not a fan of organ meats - but I do eat a lot (and I mean a lot) of leafy green veggies.

In addition to occurring naturally in some
foods, many processed foods have been enriched with folate. I use both terms interchangeably, however folic acid is the manufactured form of folate.

In 1996, the USA Food and Drug Administration (FDA) established guidelines requiring the addition of folic acid to enriched foods including cereals, bread, pasta, and other grain products.
Have a look at the label on your breakfast cereal to see how much folic acid is included in each serving.

Knowing all of this information, I got to thinking: just how much folic acid am I ingesting each day, and is there a risk that I'm getting too much?

Each day I take a prenatal vitamin. Most brands contain 400
mcg of folic acid. The brand that I take contains 1000 micro grams. In addition, my Primary Care Physician (PCP) suggested that I take an additional folic acid supplement as there has been some research that indicates that this helps when TTC. So, before I eat any food I've already taken 2 miligrams of folic acid - that's 1600 mcg more than the minimum recommended amount.

But wait, I haven't eaten anything yet! I start most days with a bowl of cereal, we know that cereals are fortified with folic acid. So that bowl of Frosted Flakes or Corn Pops contains approx. 10% of my daily folic acid requirements (approx 40mcg).

Let's say for lunch I got to the Chinese restaurant across from the office. The vegetable stir fry with broccoli, bok choy and snow peas will also contain folate.

Then maybe for dinner we have pasta - then I'm sure to be getting more folic acid.

The other day I started to wonder is too much folate dangerous? Not surprisingly, it's hard to find information on that. One website says that the upper limit of folic acid is 1000mcg (the amount in my prenatal vitamin). If that were true, I could be in trouble since I eat a diet rich in folates plus I take a supplement (or two) I am well above that amount.

The good news is that folic acid (the manufactured additive) is water soluble. So any excess gets filtered out by the kidneys and literally goes down the drain. So, I shouldn't worry. In fact when I did an internet search on "folic acid overdose", every site that I read said that it's not likely to happen.

I think that TTC for so long has me so worried about everything that goes into my body. I guess it's good to know what it is that you eat.

*Remember do not take any supplements without first consulting your doctor.


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