Folic Acid Quiz
How Much Do You Know About Folic Acid?
Try your hand at this quiz. Read each question and then write down the answer you think is correct. If you want more information before selecting your choice, just click the HINT button beside the question.
1. Folic acid is: Hint
HINT: Folic acid is a B vitamin that is needed to make DNA. Every cell in the body needs DNA to tell it what to be and how to function in the process of making tissues and organs in the newly forming baby. Folate and folic acid are different terms for the same B vitamin. While these two terms are often used interchangeably, there are some differences between them. Folate is the B vitamin form found naturally in foods. Folic acid is not found in natural food sources. Folic acid is the synthetic B vitamin form that is used in vitamin supplements and added to fortified foods. Synthetic folic acid is absorbed more easily than natural food folate.
HINT: Folic acid reduces the risk for spina bifida, and anencephaly, which are the two most common neural tube defects (NTDs). When folic acid is in a vitamin supplement, and is taken one month before conception and throughout the first three months of pregnancy (trimester), it has been proven to reduce the risk that a pregnancy will be affected by a neural tube defect up to 70%. Folic acid is required for the production of DNA, which is necessary for the rapid cell growth needed to make fetal tissues and organs early in pregnancy. That is why it is important for a woman to have enough folic acid in her body both before and during pregnancy.
HINT: Women of childbearing age should consume 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day. In 1992, the U. S. Public Health Service (PHS) recommended that all women of childbearing age consume 400 micrograms (0.4 milligrams) of folic acid every day to reduce their risk of having an NTD-affected pregnancy. For women who have already had a pregnancy affected by an NTD, the PHS recommends talking with a doctor about taking a much larger amount of folic acid (4000 micrograms [4 milligrams]), starting one month before conception and continuing throughout the first three months of pregnancy. In 1998, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommended that to reduce their risk for an NTD-affected pregnancy, women capable of becoming pregnant should take 400 micrograms of synthetic folic acid daily, from fortified foods or supplements or a combination of the two, in addition to consuming food folate from a varied diet.
HINT: This question is tricky! Taking a multivitamin with folic acid, eating a bowl of cereal with 100% of the DV of folic acid, and taking a folic acid supplement, are all ways to be sure that you are getting enough folic acid every day. This question is tricky because broccoli is a natural source of food folate, however you would have to eat 5 cups of broccoli in order to meet the daily requirement of 400 micrograms of folic acid. There are three ways women can get enough folic acid to prevent spina bifida and anencephaly. They can choose to:
1) Take a vitamin supplement (either multivitamin or folic acid supplement) containing 400 micrograms of folic acid daily.
2) Eat a fortified breakfast cereal daily which contains 100% of the daily value of folic acid (400 micrograms).
3) Increase consumption of foods fortified with folic acid (e.g., enriched cereal, bread, rice, pasta, and other grain products) in addition to consuming food folate from a varied diet (e.g., orange juice and green vegetables).
HINT: Spina bifida and anencephaly are neural tube defects, and among the most common preventable birth defects, and result in different degrees of damage to the spinal cord and nervous system. NTDs (neural tube defects) are birth defects that occur very early in pregnancy. The defects develop between the 17th and 30th day after conception (four to six weeks after the first day of a woman's last menstrual period), usually before a woman knows she is pregnant. During this critical time of pregnancy, the proper formation and closure of the neural tube, which later becomes the spinal cord, brain, and bone surrounding the spinal cord and brain, normally takes place. A neural tube defect occurs when the neural tube fails to close properly.
Anencephaly and spina bifida are the two most common NTDs. Anencephaly is a fatal condition in which the upper end of the neural tube fails to close. In these cases, the brain fails to develop completely or is entirely absent. Pregnancies affected by anencephaly often result in miscarriages, and the infants who are born alive die very soon after birth. Spina bifida occurs when the lower end of the neural tube fails to close. As a result, the spinal cord and back bones do not develop properly. Sometimes a sac of fluid protrudes through an opening in the back, and often a portion of the spinal cord is contained in this sac. Paralysis of the infant's legs, loss of bowel and bladder control, hydrocephalus ("water on the brain"), and learning disabilities are often associated with spina bifida. Eighty to 90% of infants born with spina bifida survive. Despite varying degrees of disability, many lead long, successful, and productive lives.
HINT: Each year in the U. S. about 3,000 pregnancies are affected by a defect of the spine (spina bifida) and or brain (anencephaly), also known as NTDs (neural tube defects). There are approximately 60 million women of childbearing age in the United States. Any woman who is capable of becoming pregnant could have a pregnancy affected by a neural tube defect. It is not possible to predict which women will have a pregnancy affected by an NTD. Ninety-five percent of women with NTD-affected pregnancies have no personal or family history of NTDs.
HINT: In order to help prevent neural tube defects, folic acid must be taken before and during the first few months of pregnancy. Women need to get enough folic acid every day throughout their reproductive years. To prevent neural tube defects, a woman must take folic acid every day at least one month before she conceives and continue taking it through the first trimester (three months) of pregnancy. All women capable of becoming pregnant - not just those planning a pregnancy - should consume enough folic acid every day, because half of all the pregnancies in the United States are unplanned. Remember, neural tube defects occur before many women know that they are pregnant.
HINT: While it's important to eat a healthy diet, the EASIEST way to get the right amount of folic acid everyday is to take 400 micrograms of synthetic folic acid. Taking a vitamin supplement containing folic acid is an easy way to get enough folic acid. Almost all over-the-counter multivitamins contain 400 micrograms (0.4 milligram) of folic acid, the amount recommended to prevent NTDs. The label on a multivitamin container will list a vitamin supplement's contents. Recently, more stores are carrying supplements containing folic acid alone. The cost of vitamins can vary considerably, but women can buy vitamins containing folic acid for as little as 50 cents to $1.00 a month. On January 1, 1998, the U. S. Food and Drug Administration ordered that all enriched cereal or grain products be fortified at a level of 140 micrograms (0.14 milligram) of folic acid per 100 grams of grain product. While this level of fortification offers some protection against NTDs, most women will not get enough folic acid through fortified grain products alone.
HINT: A woman should be taking folic acid if she is planning a pregnancy, is capable of becoming pregnant (even if she is not planning a pregnancy), and if she thinks she might become pregnant some time in the future. No one expects an unplanned pregnancy. But they happen - every day. In fact, about half of all pregnancies are not planned. That's why women should get enough folic acid every day if there's any chance they could get pregnant. Because by the time a woman knows she's pregnant, her baby's brain and spine are already formed.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities
Division of Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities
1600 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30333
TTY: (888) 232-6348
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