Swedish Researchers Tie Folic Acid to Good Grades

Filed under: In The News, Research Reveals: Big Kids, Research Reveals: Tweens

pasta

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Hey, kids, want to grow up to be super smart like some sort of Swedish researcher?

Be sure to eat lots and lots of (eeewww!) okra. OK, maybe you can stick to Beef-a-Roni. The important thing is to get enough folic acid. Both okra and pasta are loaded with folic acid and the Vitamin B some researchers say led to better grades in Sweden.

Then again, that's Sweden.

"There is very little deficiency of folic acid in North America," Deborah O'Connor, a nutrition researcher, tells Reuters. "If you're already sufficient, there is not a lot of evidence that taking more supplements will help."

The Swedish study, published in the journal Pediatrics, may involve teenagers who didn't get enough folic acid, she adds.

We're big on folic acid in this country. Lack of Vitamin B during pregnancy can cause severe birth defects, so certain foods are fortified with folic acid (also called folate) in North America. O'Connor tells Reuters most people get enough of the stuff.

During the Swedish study, Reuters reports, researchers did not fortify foods, and kids didn't use a lot of supplements.

What makes the study unique is that it is among the first to examine links between folic acid and academic achievement, Torbjorn Nilsson of Orebro University Hospital tells Reuters.

Nilsson and his team studied 386 teenagers who were finishing up ninth grade. When their grades from 10 core classes were added up, there was a clear difference between teens who got the most and the least folic acid.

Even O'Connor calls the results "pretty significant."

Still, she tells Reuters, questions linger.

"It's not a randomized controlled trial, so you always wonder, are there other things going on that you weren't able to control for?" she says. "Like most studies, it probably raises more questions than it answers."

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