AHA urges women to take multivitamin with folic acid

June 11, 2007

The American Heart Association (AHA) is urging women of childbearing age to take a multivitamin with folic acid to increase the chance that their babies will be born with a healthy heart.

The American Heart Association (AHA) is urging women of childbearing age to take a multivitamin with folic acid to increase the chance that their babies will be born with a healthy heart. The association said women of childbearing age "should take a daily multivitamin containing 400 mcg of folic acid or a folic acid supplement." AHA noted that "folic acid is critical to the normal growth and development of the fetus and appears to have a protective effect against the development of heart defects. Data suggest intake of folic acid is particularly important prior to conception."

In a separate, but related development, the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) has responded to a study and accompanying editorial on folic acid and the prevention of cancer in the June 6 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. CRN urged the scientific research community, media, and government not to jump to conclusions that would undo the important strides made in recent years in encouraging supplementation and food fortification with folic acid. The council noted that the study, which found that folic acid did not prevent the incidence of benign tumors [colorectal adenomas] in patients with a history of tumors, was conducted in response to epidemiological studies showing a potential benefit. "The lack of an observed benefit in this study may have resulted because folic acid was used like a drug to treat preexisting disease, rather than as a nutrient," said CRN.

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