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Folic Acid Strikes Again

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  • Most breakfast cereals
  • Dark green leafy vegetables
  • Oranges and orange juice
  • Dried beans
  • Peanuts
  • Chick peas
  • Wheat germ
  • Whole-grain breads

The best strategy is a combination of a supplement containing folic acid and varying the diet to include more folate-rich foods, says Bailey. In 1998, the FDA began requiring that certain foods such as breakfast cereals, breads, and pastas be enriched with folate after studies proved the vitamin significantly reduced the risk of birth defects. A few ready-to-eat cereals contain the entire daily requirement for folate in just one serving.

Bailey says there are reasons other than preventing birth defects to make sure you get enough folic acid. "The folate-rich food sources are also good sources of other nutrients that are considered heart-healthy," she says. "Folate is also associated with reducing a risk factor for heart disease. If you change your diet and the diet of your family to include more folate-rich food you're also potentially reducing your risk of heart disease and possibly even cancer."

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