Vitamin Giveaway Part of Folic Acid Awareness Week Celebration

San Francisco Health Network clinics will be giving away free vitamins this week to women 13 to 44 years old, officials with the San Francisco Department of Public Health said.

The giveaway is part of an effort to celebrate National Folic Acid Awareness Week, which started Sunday and lasts through January 11.

Clients of the San Francisco Health Network can get a three-month supply of multi-vitamins that contain 100 percent of the daily requirement of folic acid.

Vitamins are also available at the Go Folic! office at 30 Van Ness Ave., Suite 260 in San Francisco, to women who are not clients of the San Francisco Health Network.

“Even women whose diets are healthy can find it difficult to get the recommended 400 to 800 mcg of folate from food alone,” said the health department’s interim coordinator of family planning services Shivaun Nestor.

“The body only absorbs about 50 percent of the folate a woman gets from food, but 100 percent of the folic acid in a multi-vitamin,” Nestor added.

Folic acid is necessary for proper cell division and growth, officials with the health network said. The chance of having a baby with a neural tube defect falls by 70 percent when a woman takes folic acid before pregnancy.

Folic acid may be beneficial to women who are not planning to get pregnant, health network officials say. Risks for breast, cervical and colon cancers are lower with an adequate intake of folic acid and hair, skin and nails are healthier.

That makes folic acid a source of “beauty from the inside out.”

Keith Burbank, Bay City News

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