Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

FORTIFY Yourself; FOLIC ACID CAN HELP PREVENT BIRTH DEFECTS. PRUDENCE WADE REVEALS HOW TO GET MORE OF THIS VALUABLE VITAMIN

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

FORTIFY Yourself; FOLIC ACID CAN HELP PREVENT BIRTH DEFECTS. PRUDENCE WADE REVEALS HOW TO GET MORE OF THIS VALUABLE VITAMIN

Article excerpt

Calls PRETTY much everyone knows these days about the importance of folic acid in pregnancy and for women who are planning to conceive. But now the Government is being urged to make it compulsory for flour to contain folic acid, as research shows the vitamin can help prevent birth defects.

Folic acid - which is already added to flour in more than 80 countries worldwide - is the synthetic form of folate (a type of B vitamin). Natural folate is found in foods, whereas folic acid is used as a fortification.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF FOLIC ACID? SENIOR figures in the Scottish and Welsh Governments are lobbying Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt over the issue, and members of Food Standards Scotland have said there is clear evidence that fortifying flour could help prevent birth defects.

These include spina bifida, as well as neural tube defects which affect the brain, spine or spinal cord in unborn babies.

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service has backed the call for flour to have folic acid added to it, saying it could reduce the number of much-wanted pregnancies that are terminated due to neural tube defects.

A study by Queen Mary University of London and the School of Advanced Study at the University of London has also concluded that there is no need for an upper limit of folate intake.

Women are advised to take folic acid before pregnancy, but many don't, and experts say that fortification would provide extra cover.

Pregnant women, however, aren't the only people who stand to benefit from getting more folic acid in their diets - research also shows that it can protect against bowel cancer and heart disease.

ARE WOMEN GETTING ENOUGH FOLIC ACID IN THEIR DIETS? IN SHORT, no. Some 81% of women in Scotland of childbearing age and 79% in Wales are not getting the recommended amount of folic acid - that is higher than the 75% recorded for women across the UK.

The daily recommended allowance of folate from the British Dietetic Association is 200 micrograms - and significantly more for women who are hoping to conceive or are already pregnant. …

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