Folic acid is especially important in foetal development with the Department of Health advising that all women planning a pregnancy should take a supplement of 400µg daily from the start of trying to conceive until the 12th week of pregnancy.
Yet, despite the importance of folic acid, a recent poll found that only 56 per cent of women aged 15-55 were aware of its benefits and that just 15 per cent took a supplement both when trying for a baby and during the pregnancy.
This nutrient is now also known to help heart health by its role in reducing homocysteine, a harmful chemical present in blood that is linked to heart disease.
Indeed one team of researchers has estimated that increasing folic acid intake could reduce the risk of ischaemic heart disease by 16 per cent, deep vein thrombosis by 25 per cent, and stroke by 24 per cent.
Still nine out of ten adults consume too little folic acid.
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