Spotlight On Folic Acid
One ounce of roasted peanuts provides 10% (41 micrograms) of the daily value of folate, the naturally occurring form of the B vitamin folic acid, recommended for the reduction of birth defects and lowered heart disease risk. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich provides 18% (73 micrograms). Other good sources of folate are orange juice, green leafy vegetables, beans, broccoli, fortified breakfast cereals, and enriched grain products.
Research shows that folic acid/folate, a B vitamin, can prevent up to 70% of neural tube defects, which affect the brain and spinal cord, when women get sufficient amounts during the earliest weeks of pregnancy.
All women of child-bearing age should consume 400 micrograms of folic acid/folate every day because the neural tube is forming during the first month of pregnancy — before many women even realize they are pregnant.
There is growing evidence that suggests eating at least 400 micrograms of folic acid/folate per day will lower the risk of heart disease. Studies published in the February 4, 1998 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association and the April 9, 1998 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine support this link.
Folic acid/folate works with Vitamins B6 and B12 to remove homocysteine — an amino acid — from the body. Accumulation of homocysteine can cause a variety of heart-damaging effects such as damaged arteries and plaque build-up in the arteries.