The Barren River District Health Department said every woman, pregnant or not, needs to know the benefits associated with taking folic acid. This week is National Folic Acid Awareness week.
Folic acid is a B-vitamin that's needed for proper cell growth. Studies show folic acid can also dramatically reduce the number of birth defects of the brain and spine, called neural tube defect or NTD.
The Health Department is focusing their efforts on the Hispanic community.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports Latin women consume the least amount of folic acid and have the least knowledge about folic acid among other ethnic groups in the United States.
New research indicates although Hispanics are a high risk group, everyone needs to listen up when it comes to folic acid.
Luz Castillo is a Hispanic mother of two. It wasn't until she took pre-natal classes during her second pregnancy that she became aware of the importance of taking folic acid.
She said there are many misconceptions about folic acid in the Hispanic community.
National statistics show Luz is not alone. Hispanic women are one point five to two times more likely than others to be born with a neural tube defect or NTD.
Kentucky's statewide folic acid campaign coordinator said research indicates that consumption of folic acid before and during early pregnancy can lower the rate of NTD's by up to 70 percent.
That's why every woman, regardless of race and age, should listen up!
Brown also said many women associate folic acid with pregnancy and fail to understand that by the time a woman discovers she's pregnant, the neural tube has already developed.
The National Council on Folic Acid recommends that all woman who can become pregnant, consume 400 micrograms of folic acid daily, and to get enough folic acid women should take a daily multivitamin and eat fortified grains as part of a healthy well-balanced diet.
Brown said everyone, even men, should take a multi-vitamin including folic acid in addition to reducing the risk of neural tube defects.
New research indicates that folic acid may reduce the risk of heart disease, as well as colon, breast and cervical cancer.
For more information on how to get folic acid, contact the Barren River Health Department at 270-781-8039.
You can also visit www.barrenriverhealth.org, for more information.