Are you getting your folate?

Filed under: Your Pregnancy, Health & Safety: Babies, Nutrition: Health, That's Entertainment

Shortly after I got married, my family physician asked me if I was planning to have children soon. I had to suppress a chuckle (ah, so naive) and told her that I was hitting snooze on my biological clock for a while. "You should still consider taking a daily multivitamin with folic acid in it," she recommended. Folic acid? She may as well have said battery acid. I had never heard of it before. Not to mention that I'm bad with remembering to take things daily: vitamins, walks, birth control pills.

What I'm not bad at doing every day is having breakfast. I am no longer pregnant or nursing, but I'd like to leave the door open for having another child someday. I had read the recommendations that women should take folic acid and eat foods high in folates before they are pregnant to prevent birth defects like spina bifida. So when my homeopath suggested I eat a cereal fortified with folate every morning as a backup, I willed myself to pass the Cap'n Crunch and went straight to the healthy section. It was harder than I thought -- not all the cereals listed folate as an additive. After much label-reading, I found Kashi Go Lean cereal.

Now I'm not one to endorse products, nor do I get paid by outside sources to do so. But when I find something good, I want to share it. A one cup (55 g) serving of Kashi Go Lean cereal has 30% folate. Add a 1/2 cup of 1% milk to that and that serving has 35% folate. That was higher than any other cereal I could find in my local supermarket. And it's low fat, so if you are trying to shed a few, you can feel extra good about it eating this. (Pregnant moms can sneak in an extra brownie later in the day as a reward, guilt free!)

Folate is important to more than just women. Folate has been known to be beneficial to those with high blood pressure, certain cancers, and anyone who went to a few too many keggers in college. You can also increase your folate intake naturally by upping your diet with the usual good food suspects: leafy green veggies, fruits, dried beans and peas.

As always, check with your physician before taking the advice of random columnists on the Internet.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.