Best Folic Acid Foods for Pregnancy

Some of the best folic acid foods for pregnancy.
Folic acid is one of the most important nutrients women need during pregnancy.  It is crucial for helping to reduce the occurrence of various forms of birth defects, and also aids the mother's body in producing the extra blood cells required during pregnancy.  The daily recommended requirement of folic acid for pregnant women is 400 mcg (micrograms). Although prenatal vitamin supplements contain substantial amounts of the nutrient, it is usually recommended to try to obtain vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients through foods in a healthy, balanced diet.  We've compiled a list of 12 of the most healthy and best folic acid foods for pregnancy.  Of course, you should always check with your doctor to make sure that these foods are okay for you and do not interfere with any health conditions you may have.

Lentils

Lentils, and legumes in general, are among the most healthy foods you can eat, whether pregnant or not. They are among the most folate-dense foods you can eat.  They also contain significant amounts of protein and fiber, and they are low in fat.  Many people use lentils as a healthier substitute for meats.  A half-cup of cooked lentils contains around 180 mcg of folic acid, or nearly half of the daily requirement.

Beans

Like lentils, beans are legumes, and thus are extremely nutritious foods to eat anytime.  They contain a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, are high in protein, and contain large amounts of insoluble fiber.  Some bean varieties that are high in folate levels include black beans, navy beans, pinto beans, Lima beans, and kidney beans.  Just one-half of a cup of cooked beans contains anywhere between 110 and 150 mcg of folic acid, or around one-third of the daily requirement.

Fortified or Enriched Cereals

Fortified cereals are the food source which can contain the highest levels of folic acid.  A typical fortified cereal usually contains anywhere between 100 to 400 mcg of folate, or somewhere between 25 to 100 percent of your daily requirement.  Of course, you should try to choose cereals made from whole grains that contain a good amount of fiber.  Also, try to avoid cereals that contain high amounts of sugar.

Enriched Pasta

Enriched pastas are another way to get large amounts of folic acid in one meal.  Again, you should try to choose pastas made from whole grains that contain fiber.  Pasta dishes are a great way to get plenty of complex carbohydrates for energy during pregnancy.  Most enriched pastas contain around 100 mcg of folate per one cup of cooked pasta, or around a quarter of your daily requirement.

Asparagus

Asparagus is one of the best folic acid foods for pregnancy, as it is among the foods with the highest content of folate.  Five spears of asparagus contains about 100 mcg of folic acid, or about one-fourth of the recommended daily intake. Be sure not to overcook the vegetable as heating it for too long can result in the loss of folic acid and other nutrients.  Asparagus also contains fiber to aid in digestion.

Spinach

Spinach is another excellent vegetable source of folic acid, in addition to being one of the most overall nutrient-rich vegetables you can eat. Generally speaking, dark, green, leafy vegetables are among the most nutritious foods you can eat. They also contain a large amount of iron, which is essential during pregnancy.  One-half cup of cooked spinach contains about 100 mcg of folate, or about 25% of your daily requirement.

Cauliflower

Cauliflower is another vegetable that contains a good amount of folate. In addition, it is an extremely fiber-rich food which can aid in digestion and the relief of constipation. One cup of cooked cauliflower contains around 70 mcg of folic acid, which is almost 18% of the daily recommended amount.

Broccoli

Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that, in addition to being a good source of folate, contains numerous vitamins and minerals, and is an excellent source of anti-oxidants, which help to prevent disease and promote healing.  It also is an excellent vegetable-source for iron, which benefits many women during pregnancy, as the risk of anemia is higher while pregnant.  As with all vegetables, overcooking can result in losing important nutrients.  Steaming broccoli is one of the best, most healthy options for cooking the vegetable.  One-half cup of cooked broccoli has around 50 mcg of folic acid, or one-eighth of the daily recommended amount.

Avocados

Avocados contain more folic acid by weight than any other fruit.  Additionally, they are one of the best sources of high-energy, healthy fats (omega-3's and monounsaturated fats) you can find.  They are considered among the healthiest foods you eat.  Consuming a half-cup serving of avocado will provide you with around 45 mcg of folate, or about 12% of the daily recommended intake.

Oranges and Other Citrus Fruits

Oranges, along with other citrus fruits, are excellent sources of not only vitamins C and A, calcium, and fiber, but also of folic acid. These refreshing fruits are extremely nutritious for pregnant women. The anti-oxidants in citrus fruits helps to reduce the risk of heart disease and various forms of cancer and their fiber content can help eliminate constipation which often occurs during pregnancy. However, if you suffer from any digestive issues during pregnancy, you should limit your intake of acidic citrus fruits. Try to always eat fresh oranges or juices.  Avoid juices that contain extra sugar or other sweeteners.  One orange contains about 40 mcg of folic acid, or about 10% of the daily recommended requirement.

Eggs

Eggs are very nutrient-dense and are an excellent dietary source for vitamins for pregnant women.  In addition to folate, eggs contain a variety of vitamins, including vitamins A and D. They also contain a good amount of iron.  One egg contains approximately 25 mcg of folic acid, or about 6% of your daily recommended intake.

Milk

Milk is an excellent, healthy source of folate. Milk also contains an abundance of protein and calcium - two nutrients that are also crucial during pregnancy. Drinking milk is an easy and convenient way to obtain a number of important vitamins and minerals.  One cup of milk (8 oz.) has about 10-15 mcg of folic acid, or about 3% of the daily requirement.

Other Healthy Foods High in Folate

In addition to the foods we've listed above, there are a number of other healthy foods that are good sources of folic acid.  Here are some additional best folic acid foods for pregnancy:

Tomatoes
Berries
Seeds and Nuts
Brussels Sprouts
Beats
Corn
Yogurt

Vitamin D a Potential Remedy for Sunburns: Implications for Skin Cancer Treatment

Vitamin D is a good remedy for sunburn.
According to scientists at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, large amounts of Vitamin D could be the solution to the bane of fair-skinned people - red, painful sunburns. People who ingested large quantities of Vitamin D one hour after getting a sunburn felt long-term benefits, which included a substantial reduction in redness, swelling and inflammation. The research was the first-ever study to explore the anti-inflammatory properties of Vitamin D. The study was published in the May edition of the Journal of Investigative Dermatology

This research raises the question: Could quickly healing skin result in better protection from the ultraviolet rays of the sun and, potentially, from getting skin cancer? Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer occuring in the U.S., according to data tracked by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

During the study, twenty people received a sunburn utilizing a lamp, then were given a placebo, or varying amounts of Vitamin D. The Vitamin D doses were given in massive amounts ranging anywhere from 12,500% to 50,000% of the recommended daily amount. The people who received the largest amounts of the vitamin experienced the best results.  They had reduced skin irritation within two day and suffered from less redness.

The scientists theorized that the mechanism behind the fast healing is that Vitamin D increases anti-inflammatory enzymes in the epidermis. This enzyme acts to trigger the production of other anti-inflammatory proteins and stimulates repair of tissues.

The health benefits of Vitamin D have been controversial over time. A decade ago, research had linked a deficiency of Vitamin D to both osteoporosis and heart disease. However, more recently, an analysis of forty research studies indicated that healthy individuals were not likely to receive any benefits from taking Vitamin D.

The research is promising, but more, larger studies need to be conducted in order to further explore these early results.

Source: USA Today.

Study: A Deficiency of Vitamin A Could Negatively Impact Stem Cells

Vitamin A deficiency could negatively affect stem cells.
A study done at the German Cancer Research Center has found that a vitamin A deficiency can negatively impact blood stem cells. Specialized cells located in the blood, digestive system, and skin have a relatively brief lifespan and require regular replenishment. They come from stem cells which constantly divide in order to survive.

In 2008, scientists found a group of specialized stem cells which are located in the bone marrow that are dormant the majority of the time, and only become active in order to combact viral or bacterial infections, loss of blood, or in reaction to chemotherapy treatments. When their task is completed, these powerful stem cells return to a dormant state.

The mechanisms that case the stem cells to activate and deactivate have now been identified. It was discovered that retinoic acid, which is a vitamin A metabolite, is critical for these processes. When retinoic acid isn't present, active stem cells aren't able to go back into dormancy and they develop into specialized blood cells, instead.

Using specially-bred mice, researchers learned that the stem cells are lost as a reservoir if there is a shortage of retinoic acid. "If we feed these mice on a vitamin A deficient diet for some time, this leads to a loss of stem cells," Nina Cabezas-Wallscheid, lead author of this study, stated. "We can prove for the first time that vitamin A has a direct impact on blood stem cells."

This research serves to help provide new insight into previous studies which indicated that vitamin A deficiency impairs the immune system. "This shows how vitally important it is to have a sufficient intake of vitamin A from a balanced diet," Cabezas-Wallscheid said.

Researchers speculate that these findings may play a role in future cancer treatments because cancer cells, like stem cells, rest in a dormant state and their metabolism is stopped, resulting in resistance to chemotherapy.

Study pulished in Cell.

Relieving PMS with Vitamins and Minerals

Some vitamins and minerals can help PMS.
Women suffering from pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) are always on the lookout for new and better ways to find relief from the discomforts of PMS.  However, over-the-counter pain medications often just don't do the job, and many prescription medications may result in unwanted side-effects. There are other things to consider, though.  Many women have had success after trying some of the more natural remedies and treatments that have been used to relieve the symptoms of PMS.

Alternative treatments including vitamins, herbs, and other supplements may be able to help ease some of the common symptoms of menstruation like cramps and bloating, particularly when combined with a healthful diet.

Having a healthy diet that which includes foods that are rich in certain vitamins and minerals may be able to help relieve menstrual symptoms.

Following is a list of some of the vitamins and minerals that have been reported to be specifically helpful in relieving PMS symptoms and discomfort:

Vitamin A has been reported to help relieve menstrual symptoms associated with PMS.

Vitamin B6 can help decrease bloating, as it is a natural diuretic. It may also help to regulate estrogen levels which may not be balanced during your period.

Vitamin E is know to help alleviate the discomfort of sore and tender breasts. It also plays a role in helping to regulate hormone levels, and may help with irritability and depression.

Pantothenic acid is a nutrient that is widely used to help lower stress.

Calcium and magnesium are strong natural minerals that can aid in reducing both cramps and tense muscles. They can also contribute to lowering of stress.

PMS Vitamin Supplements

If you want to take a mult-vitamin supplement specifically aimed at helping to reduce PMS symptoms, ensure that it includes vitamins A, C, D, and E, in addition to B vitamins, and the minerals phosphorous, potassium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, pantothenic acid, iron, and zinc.

If you currently take a vitamin supplement each day, ensure that the addition of a supplement for PMS doesn't result in exceeding the recommended daily dosage of the vitamins and minerals in each supplement. Also do not take a separate vitamin B6 supplement together with a B-complex supplement in order to avoid exceeding the daily limit.

Meeting with a certified nutritionist can be helpful in managing your vitamin and minderal dosages as they will be able to recommend the ideal nutrient combinations for your particular situation. It is possible that a certain standard daily multi-vitamin will contain all the supplements you need to help treat your PMS symptoms.

Vitamins and Minerals to Keep Your Eyes Healthy

Vitamins and minerals for eye health.
An important component of keeping your eyes healthy is ensuring that you are getting enough of the right vitamins and minerals that support eye health. There are a wide range of eye conditions and disorders affecting many people, and getting the right nutrients, in sufficient amounts, can help reduce your risk of these diseases.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is a strong antioxidant generally found in foods that come from animals including liver and eggs, and in fruits and vegetables, such as carrots and spinach. Milk is also usually fortified with vitamin A. Vitamin A is vital for correct functioning of the retina. It also aids in preventing night blindness by aiding in adaptation between light and dark. It is also linked to a lowered risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and the formation of cataracts. As AMD and cataracts are two of the primary causes of visual impairment and with their prevalence steadily increasing, getting sufficient quantities of vitamin A is crucial to maintaining the health of your eyes.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C performs a number of necessary functions in our bodies. It helps to strengthen bones and muscles, it bolsters the immune system, it helps in maintaining healthy teeth and gums, and it lowers the risk of a myriad of diseases and conditions. It is not surprising that it is also vital for maintaining healthy eyes. Vitamin C is another powerfulantioxidant that can lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) as well as the formation of cataracts. Vitamin C is not only found in citrus fruits, but can also be found strawberries, green peppers, and broccoli.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is also a powerful antioxidant vitamin that performs many functions. Eating a diet rich in vitamin E is linked to a lowerded risk of Alzheimer's Disease, heart disease, and it is also though to guard against various types of cancers. In relation to eye health, vitamin E has been linked with a lowered incidence of cataracts and slowed growth of cataracts. Good dietary sources of vitamin E include nuts, green leafy vegetables, and fortified foods like cereal.

Selenium and Zinc

Selenium and Zinc are the two primary minerals that act on the oxidation process. They aid the body in the absorption of antioxidants and making sure you get the daily recommended values of these minerals can ensure that you are getting the antioxidants you need to prevent eye diseases. Just like with antioxidants, absorbing too large of amounts of these minerals could lead to problems.