New Benefits of Prenatal Folic Acid Discovered

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Folic acid supplements are recommended to women of childbearing age to prevent defects of the spinal cord and brain, but NIH-funded research has discovered another important benefit: Children are less likely to become obese if mothers have adequate levels of the nutrient during pregnancy. The study found that mothers' blood levels of folate at or above 20 nm/L (nanomoles per liter) reduced risk of childhood obesity by 43 percent if the mother was obese. The standard recommendation is for women to take 400 mcg of folic acid daily. Naturopathic practitioners generally recommend an absorbable form called methyl folate or 5-MTHF.

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