Folic Acid Awareness is an advocacy all of us should care and talk about. It benefits the entire human race-present and future-in many different aspects.
You probably are wondering what is folic acid and its importance. Folic acid is a man-made vitamin also known as vitamin B9 . Like all B vitamins, it plays an important role in your health and well-being. Our bodies need folate to make DNA and other genetic material and for the body’s cells to divide.It also important in the development of the baby’s spine and nervous system before birth. Taking folic acid reduces the chances of your baby having prematurity and birth defects.
Folic acid should be taken by everyone, especially pregnant women. This is because your baby also needs folic acid, hence him absorbing a part of it. A lack of folate (folate-deficiency anemia) can lead to higher chances of major neural birth defects. When one does not take the amount of folate required for the body, your blood does not bring enough oxygen to all your tissues and organs resulting to your body not working as well as it should. Low levels of folic acid can also cause megaloblastic anemia.
I am a female Filipino-Chinese High School student in the Philippines, an incoming Grade 10 if you want to be exact. I am a perfectly normal human being with my own problems to take care of. I am actually not fond of science, rather I am fond of business. I am not a saint, nor a role model, but I do support the supplementation among Filipino women in our country. Here is why?
Folic Acid is needed every day
Folic acid is a water-soluble vitamin meaning it does not stay in the body for a long time.. The body metabolizes folic acid quickly, so your body needs folic acid every day in order to work properly.
All women need folic acid
All women that reach their reproductive age must absorb 400-800 g of folic acid, even if you are not trying to get pregnant. Why? Most pregnancies in the Philippines are unplanned and folic acid deficiency develops during the early stages of pregnancy, basically the early weeks when you don’t know you are pregnant yet. A woman who consumes less than the suggested intake have higher chances of producing a baby with neural birth defects. When taking the recommended daily dose of folic acid, you deplete the chances of this defects by 70%. Also, your birth control may not work or not be used correctly all the time. In a survey, almost 40% of women with unplanned pregnancies were using birth control. Even women who reached menopause still need 400 g of folic acid every day. In a study conducted with Food and Nutrition Research Institute of DOST, out of 2119 Filipino women ranging from 15-45 years old, 20.9% tested folate-deficient and 38.7% tested with early stages of folate deficiency.
You can consume folic acid through food supplements and fortified foods. Most food supplements are over-the-counter drugs, depending on the amount you buy. Food supplements are sold average P9.00 per capsule. You can ask your pharmacist to help you select a pill that will meet your needs. However, you can get enough acid from food alone such as the following: Spinach and other dark green, leafy vegetables, Breakfast cereal, Oranges and orange juice, Breads and past, Nuts and more.
*Tip – check the “Supplement Facts” label in your food to keep track of your daily dose of folic acid.
Our baby’s lives are at stake
Birth defects are more common than you think. The occurrence of NTDs at the PGH is 23 per 10,000 live births. In the Philippines, fortification with folic acid could prevent between 3,000-3,500 babies from being born with a neural tube defect per year. Folate deficiency can also increase the chances of prematurity and malnutrition. Some babies are even born unable to absorb folic acid. Some research suggests that folic acid may help lower your baby’s risk of other defects as well, such as cleft lip, cleft palate, and certain types of heart defects. Yearly, 7.9 million children are born with serious birth defects. 276,000 children die due to congenital anomalies ( a neural birth defect ), which have remained one of the top 10 leading causes of death in the last 50 years.
This becomes a burden to both parents and babies
Unfortunately, a study has shown that folate deficiency can sometimes lead to temporary infertility. However, when they are fertile, they have a high chance for their babies to have neural birth effects. It also brings in a negative impact to health centers and government-needing to cash in more from their very tight budget.
Folic acid has other uses
Some people use folic acid to prevent colon cancer or cervical cancer. It is also used to prevent heart disease and stroke. . High homocysteine levels might be a risk for heart disease. Folic acid is used for memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease, age-related hearing loss, preventing the eye disease age-related macular degeneration (AMD), reducing signs of aging, osteoporosis, jumpy legs (restless leg syndrome), sleep problems, depression, nerve pain, muscle pain, AIDS, a skin disease called vitiligo, and an inherited disease called Fragile-X syndrome.
The lack of awareness of folic acid supplementation in the Philippines
Only 6 out of 10 individuals are aware of the importance of folic acid to everyone. Filipinos think that folic acid is needed only by pregnant mothers. If we raise awareness for the supplementation of folic acid, more brands will get popular leading to cheaper and more affordable especially for the low-class Filipino women. As done in other countries like the United States, wheat and maize flour fortification have been recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) as effective prevention against NTDs. The Philippines is one of few countries that does not include folic acid in the fortification of wheat flour and bread. There is also no policy that raises awareness of folic acid supplementation, hence Filipinos having blank knowledge about this concerning matter. Senator Pia Cayetano is now working on passing an act in the House of Representatives that will promote folic acid fortification and supplementation.
I choose to support because I have a voice
Why I choose to support this matter is because my voice can raise awareness to it. Each and everyone’s voice is vital in making a difference. Through the help of social media, our voices are heard easier and makes it more effective. My voice and your voice is more important than you think. Yes it may not affect us today-but it will affect us tomorrow. “Walang Pakialaman” they said. It rings true in many different aspects. But not in this one. If we don’t act now, big consequences await us and our future children. We don’t act until it happens to us. And do you really want to wait until it happens to your children?
How you can help
You can support the awareness of Folic Acid supplementation. Organizing fundraisers or joining one is a good idea. Sharing to social media is also a very helpful one as more people can know about the matter. Another one you can join is a campaign that Volunteer Youth Leaders recently put up. This July 18, Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health (VYLH) – Philippines, a national collaboration of youth leaders of youth organizations in universities and communities in the Philippines, will be launching the first National Social Media day for Folic Acid Awareness, #FolicAcidPH.
For more details about #FolicAcidPH, please visit bit.ly/folicacidph or the official campaign Facebook page (fb.com/folicacidph).
#FolicAcidPH Campaign page
Social media Campaign links:
Join the Thunderclap on or before July 18 (7:00 PM)
Update your profile photo with the Twibbon
THE CAMPAIGN ENDS AT JULY 18, 2017 7:00 PM HURRY!
Other info about Volunteer Youth Leaders Philippines
Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health – Philippines @vylhphilippines
empowering the youth for health
Institute of Human Genetics – NIH, UP Manila
We don’t know how powerful our voice is until we use it.