Besides ensuring the proper development of a baby’s nervous system, folic acid can reduce the risk of a number of birth defects. Now, researchers are saying that its protective effects may even extend to a child’s later risk of colon cancer.
A study published in the medical journal Gut found that laboratory rodents fed folic acid supplements had offspring who were 64 percent less likely then their counterparts to develop colon cancer in adulthood.
Folic acid, also known as vitamin B9, is a vital nutrient that numerous health authorities recommend pregnant women take in the form of daily dietary supplements. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that expecting mothers consume 400 micrograms of the nutrient each day.
The National Women’s Health Information Resource Center notes that vitamin B9 is especially important in the prevention of spina bifida and anencephaly, two serious and potentially fatal birth defects.
The authors of the new study theorize that adequate levels of folic acid can stabilize a child’s genetic material, reducing the risk of DNA damage in maturity. Women who want their full daily dose of the nutrient may consider regularly taking a vitamin supplement.