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Health experts encourage vitamin intake for Folic Acid Awareness Week

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EUREKA- If you're an expecting mother, chances are your doctor told you to take multi-vitamins with folic acid to prevent birth defects. But local health experts say you should begin taking the supplement long before you're pregnant.

January 4 through 10 marks Folic Acid Awareness Week. Health experts with the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services are encouraging all women ages 15 to 45 to start taking the B-vitamin now. According to DHHS, nearly 3,000 neural tube defects develop each year during pregnancies, but women can prevent 50 to 70 percent of those serious defects by taking folic acid before even getting pregnant. The vitamin promotes cell growth and can be found in a variety of foods, including leafy green vegetables.