Sunday, January 27, 2008

Motivation To Get In Shape

If you are a male who needs some motivation to get in shape, you need to watch this short clip! I'm serious. Put the donut down and watch this now. If you are a female and the man in your life needs to lose a few pounds around the middle, you need to drag him (kicking and screaming) over to the computer screen to watch this short video! If this doesn't do it, nothing will!

Wasn't that fun? Quick, while you are still motivated, start to devise a plan of action. Eighty percent of the problem with doing exercise is basically SHOWING UP AND DOING IT. Now, what are you going to do?

I try to do things that I enjoy doing. If you don't enjoy it, you won't be doing it for long. I love the feeling of speed and the wind in my face. We have a lot of bike paths around my neck of the woods so I like to ride my bike and go inline skating. I have done a few century bike rides (100 miles) with some local bike clubs that were very enjoyable. It is socially as well as physically healthy. On weekends I like to go on long rides on my skates too. I have been known to go 20 miles in an afternoon. I have invested in a couple of pairs of good performance skates. My favorite is made by Technica. These are the same people that make high quality ski boots. Speaking of skiing, it is rough to skate or ride my bike around the Chicago area in the winter. I like to go snowboarding when I can but when I don't have that kind of time, I try to go cross country skiing. It is very economical and I don't have to wait in lift lines.

Having a dog has been helpful too. She loves to go for a walk with me and it gets us both out of the house and into the sunshine. Actually, I think I am going to go right now before the sun goes down. I'll be right back . . . .

Ok, I'm back and I feel better now. I am trying to explore some other things that I can do to build more muscle and vary my routine. Although I have never ordered his products, I have been interested in Matt Furey's "Combat Conditioning."
Every once in a while, I go to his blog at Matt Furey Uncensored
He advocates exercises that are ancient but powerfully effective. He says, "Forget Weights and Forget Cardio." His exercises use your own body weight and can be done in as little as 15 minutes a day. I'm not into body building and I don't care what others think of my physique. I just want to be healthy and toned. Aerobic exercise is good for your heart, lungs and major muscle groups. Weight resistance training and stretching are good additions to that. The good thing about Matt Furey is that he shows you how to exercise using more muscle groups at one time in order to get more done in 15 minutes than most people could get done in an hour. Saving time is a good thing!

Benefits of Anaerobic Strength Training:

• Increased muscular strength

• Larger muscles that burn more calories

• Increased flexibility and balance

• Decreased risk of heart attack

• Prevention of muscle loss and falls during aging

• Improved bone density and decreased risk of osteoporosis

I like the fact that more muscle helps my body to increase it's metabolism and burn calories even while I sleep!

So here are a few exercises that I have found on Youtube that illustrate some variations on the old "push up" and the "squat." The first one is called a "Hindu Push Up." If you can do a hundred regular push ups, I dare you to try that with a Hindu push up. Try to do at least ten. Another variation on that would be a "Dive Bomber" push up. The difference is that it uses more different muscles than you are used too. If you notice, it also stretches the spine and increases flexibility. The second one is the proper form for a Hindu squat. If you don't like the name "Hindu", feel free to change it. If you want to call it a Presbyterian push up or a Second Day Adventist squat, that would be fine. It is still the same movement.

What is great about all of these exercises is that you don't need to spend a fortune on a lot of exercise equipment. If you have that kind of money and that equipment isn't collecting dust or acting as a place to dry the laundry a year from now, that is great! More power to you.

Another great way to develop muscle without breaking the bank is to use what is called a "Swiss Ball" or "Stability Ball." They are relatively cheap and you should get one based on your height. You can usually get a book with it or you could go to and find some exercise videos that you like. Here is an example of 10 exercises that you could use with the Swiss ball.

Sit ups and crunches on the Swiss ball put less strain on the back. Because you are having to balance yourself all the time as you sit on the ball, you are actually using more of your stabilizer muscles and getting a little better work out.

So, I hope that gives you some more variety for your workouts. The important thing is to enjoy what you do and to stick with it. I would you do several things.

  • Keep a written journal of what you do every day
  • Write down your goals of what you want to accomplish and by when you want to accomplish it.
  • Tell someone what you are going to do and ask them to hold you accountable to do it. Better yet, find an exercise partner. Two are better than one.

Feel free to make a comment here and share some of your own workout tips and ideas too.

For more excellent reading on this subject, read the following blog posts:

The Seven Essential Habit Of A Seccessful Fitness Routine

What Motivates You To Get Fit

Thursday, January 24, 2008

You, On A Diet . . . Again!

Release the hounds! It is diet season again, sports fans! The diet aisle in my local bookstore is loaded with people looking for the that hot selling new book that will give them the latest "secret" diet plan. Needless to say, it might be the twentieth book they have bought over the years, but who is counting. From pills, potions and programs to gadgets, diet food and drinks, we're gobbling them up, seeking an easy solution to our weight problems.

Weight-loss plans promise to help you shed pounds, but lots of them will do nothing more than lighten your wallet. Americans spend about $50 billion a year on weight-loss products. Before you lay out some serious cash for that new product, program or gadget, consider this. Only 5-10% of the 50 million people who go on a diet this year will actually succeed, lose the weight and keep it off.

Hey, we are Americans. We like things to be easy and we like things NOW! We are suckers for anything that says "Eat all you want and still lose weight" or "Melt away fat while you sleep." We find it hard to believe in this age of scientific breakthroughs and medical miracles that an effortless weight-loss method doesn't exist. But it doesn't.

Fraudulent fat-fighting programs were the most common consumer scam of 2007, the Better Business Bureau said, noting that complaints about diet programs have surged more than 40% in the last five years. In New York, complaints about health, beauty and fitness companies jumped 50% in just the past year.

Diet schemes run the gamut from weight-loss tea - which turns out to be little more than a warm drink - to supposed fat-dissolving injections that resulted in extensive swelling and pain, but not the hot body being promised.

Here are a few pointers when looking at a new diet plan:

1. Advertising can be deceptive, so don't believe everything you read.

An FTC review of more than 300 ads from radio, television, magazines and newspapers that ran during 2001-2002 found that a whopping 55 percent made claims promising more than the product or service could likely deliver.

Claims such as "rapid weight loss," "no diet or exercise required," "eat whatever you want" and "take it off and keep it off" are all hot buttons that advertisers use to get consumers to buy their products and services. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

2. 'Scientifically proven' or 'doctor-endorsed' doesn't mean it works.

Many products claim to be tested at "respected," "major" or "leading" medical centers or universities. Check it out. Find out if the medical center or university even exist! Where was the study conducted and where was it actually published and by whom? Was the doctor a medical doctor or a doctor of philosophy? Is he a real doctor or does he just play one on TV?!?

"Often there's no scientific evidence behind Dr. X's claims," notes Dr. George Blackburn, a member of the government-sponsored Partnership for Healthy Weight Management and assistant director of nutrition medicine at the Harvard Medical School.

And often the endorsements fail to disclose that the health professional doing the recommending has a financial interest in the product, or that he or she may not have reviewed the scientific evidence. Even if it was reviewed, he or she may not have used acceptable review standards.

3. Testimonials are not a good indicator of a product's success.

Have you ever taken a hard look at the before and after pictures that come along with the testimonials? They are hilarious. Typically, in the "before" photos, the person appears with poor posture, a neutral facial expression, unkempt hair, unfashionable clothes and washed-out skin tones. The "after" photos generally are better lit. The person stands with shoulders held back, tummy tucked in, wearing smarter-looking clothes and is carefully made up, coiffed and smiling.

Sometimes companies take healthy people, make them overeat and the "after" picture shown is really what the person looked like before they began overeating.

4. Just because the government allows it on the market doesn't mean it's safe or does what it claims.

People mistakenly think that the FDA is monitoring everything that is being put out there on the market. It gives them a false sense of security and nothing could be further from the truth.

The majority of diet products on the market today are dietary supplements. Under the DSHEA, or Dietary Supplement and Health Education Act passed by Congress in 1994, the law doesn't require the manufacturers of dietary supplements to demonstrate that their product is safe or efficacious before it goes on the market.

In the last 10 years, the FTC has brought over 100 cases against manufacturers for false and misleading claims and advertising. That is a drop in the bucket as to what is really out there.
Unless there is an "adverse affect" (something really bad) that is reported, they don't even have time to look at it. People have to die or get really sick before they will even look into it.

5. Don't believe everything you hear.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Mark Nutritionals Inc., a Texas-based company selling the Body Solutions Evening Weight Formula, advertised on the radio that you could shed unwanted pounds in your sleep without having to change your diet or exercise. How silly.

They had a really slick advertising campaign in three states. They used local DJ's to spread the word as they supplied them with product and compensated them well to share the weight loss gospel. The advertising was not misleading. It was false and bogus. The FTC went after them and
Mark Nutritionals is no longer operational.

6. 'Natural' or 'herbal' doesn't guarantee safety.

One "natural" diet supplement in the news lately is ephedra. It's an amphetamine-like diet supplement derived from the Chinese herb ma huang and has been found to constrict the blood vessels, speed the heart rate and raise blood pressure.

The FDA received more than 16,000 complaints of adverse reactions to the herb, which is found in more than 200 dietary supplements sold over the counter. It has been linked to 155 deaths from heart attacks and strokes. Hundreds of ephedra victims have filed suit.

Recently, after more than six years of study, the FDA announced plans to ban the "fat-burning" herb ephedra, declaring it a hazard even for healthy adults.

But ephedra is not the only "natural" product on the FDA's watch list. It has issued warnings of "possible health hazards" against herb-supplement products containing chaparral, comfrey, willow bark and wormwood. Additional items on the watch list include supplements and so-called dieter's teas that contain senna, cascara, aloe, buckthorn and other plant-derived laxatives.

7. Fad diets don't work.
ALL of them are doomed for failure. Fad diets are a temporary solution to a long term problem. You don't need a diet. You need a long term lifestyle change. You don't need a rapid, unhealthy amount of weight loss. What goes up must come down. In terms of weight loss, it should be "What goes down, will eventually come back up (and more)." Losing it slow and steady is much healthier and gives you a better chance of keeping it off.

Hundreds of fad diets have been published over the years.
If any one of them truly worked, there wouldn't be the need for another one.

8. Nothing is free. It will cost you.

All three of the largest national weight loss chains -- Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and LA Weight Loss -- continue to make millions in revenue. In 2003, Weight Watchers' revenue was approximately $943 million, while Jenny Craig saw $280 million and LA Weight Loss climbed from revenues of $105 million in 2001 to $250 million and counting in 2003.

While costs vary for each program, they could be worth it if you stick with it and do it in a healthy way. The costs of obesity are extremely high. Think about that for a moment. It's not a cosmetics issue. Successful weight loss of even five to 10 pounds can save hundreds of dollars per person and hundreds of millions of dollars to the economy in health-care costs. Programs that teach you a healthy diet and lifestyle produce the best outcomes.

9. There is no magic bullet.

Some dieters place their hopes on pills and capsules that promise to "burn," "block" or "flush" fat from the body. But science has yet to come up with a low-risk magic bullet for weight loss. Some pills may control appetite but can have serious side effects. Amphetamines, for instance, are highly addictive and can have an adverse impact on the heart and central nervous system. Other pills are utterly worthless.

Let's be realistic. You can't solve years of overeating overnight. There are no shortcuts. Exercise, proper sleep, healthy eating, nutritional supplementation and a permanent lifestyle change are the path to success.

Oh, and just in case you thought that diet sodas and other products that have aspartame, Splenda, sucralose, saccharin or other artificial sweeteners in them might be a help in losing weight, think again. Click here to read why they may be MAKING you fat!

Here is to your success this year. May this be the year that you make your breakthrough to better health and more energy to live a long and happy life. You deserve it. Be smart and do your homework and you should be on your way very soon.

If you want to learn what the Three Reasons Why Diets Fail are and what to do about it, check out my blog entry from December 31, 2007: Why Diets Fail

Another excellent post on this topic can be found on the Health and Fitness blog. Click on the following link to read Tom's post on "Health And Fitness Is Not A 12 Week Program."

P.S. Michael F. Roizen, MD, and Mehmet C. Oz, MD have written a great non-diet book called "You On A Diet." In it, they state that your waist size is more important than weight, because belly fat is so strongly linked to many health risks. So ditch the scale in favor of the tape measure. Good book.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I Can Only Imagine - A Father's Love

Into every life a little rain must fall. I want you to think about all the struggles that you have had or are having right now and I invite you to hear a story that will lighten your burden and give you the strength to carry on to victory and triumph. After the rain falls, the sun comes out eventually and there is a beautiful rainbow.

Dick and Rick Hoyt are a father-and-son team from Massachusetts who together compete just about continuously in marathon races. And if they’re not in a marathon they are in a triathlon — that daunting, almost superhuman, combination of 26.2 miles of running, 112 miles of bicycling, and 2.4 miles of swimming. Together they have climbed mountains, and once trekked 3,735 miles across America.

It’s a remarkable record of exertion — all the more so when you consider that Rick can't walk or talk.

For the past twenty five years or more Dick, who is 65, has pushed and pulled his son across the country and over hundreds of finish lines. When Dick runs, Rick is in a wheelchair that Dick is pushing. When Dick cycles, Rick is in the seat-pod from his wheelchair, attached to the front of the bike. When Dick swims, Rick is in a small but heavy, firmly stabilized boat being pulled by Dick.

At Rick’s birth in 1962 the umbilical cord coiled around his neck and cut off oxygen to his brain. Dick and his wife, Judy, were told that there would be no hope for their child’s development.

Rick, now 46, has had cerebral palsy since birth. Rick graduated from Boston College in 1993

Read the rest of their story by clicking on the following link or click on the video below.

Team Hoyt - Racing Towards Inclusion

After watching a movie like the one below, Dick received the following letter from a soldier.

Dear Dick and Rick,

I just felt compelled to write you a note of thanks.

After being medically discharged from the Army in the 90's following a leg injury, I was at a pretty sad crossroads in my life, when I watched a documentary in the early hours of the morning in the UK, that charted your Iron man.

I remember crying more that night than I have ever done in my life! It made me realize that no matter what life throws at you, you can still do whatever you want. it just takes a little more effort and a truck load of determination. So that's what I did, I found a direction, and more importantly my spark. I picked myself up and built a career, and more importantly a family.

Read the rest of the letter by going to Soldiers Letter

Whenever I start to think that life is tough and "I can't" go much further, I watch this video. When my strength and my patience run out, I ponder these pictures.

Jesus said, "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" - Matthew 7:11

This is the perfect example of God's Grace expressed in humanity !!
Surely Goodness and Mercy shall "FOLLOW ME"( or push me)!!! Thanks Mr. Hoyt

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Vitamin D Shortage

I was picking up a few things at the health food store the other night and vitamin D3 was on my list. I live in a northern climate and don't get much sun during the winter months. When I got to the section where hundreds of different brands of vitamin D once stood, I found that the shelves were almost bare! The store clerk told me they were having a hard time keeping it on the shelf. There are a lot of studies that have come out recently as to the health benefits of this little power house.

Look at the following video from ABC News that talks about the benefits of vitamin D on your health. Click on the following link to watch.

Vitamin D and Your Heart

No matter what the medical establishment and the sunscreen industry say, your body has a physical need for sunlight. You probably already know that your skin reacts to sunlight by making vitamin D. Some evidence suggests a dearth of vitamin D may be associated with an array of more serious illnesses, including immune-system disorders such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes. But you may not know just how beneficial vitamin D really is. Here’s just a sample of its clinically proven power.

  • Elevates mood and boosts mental performance

  • Prevents many types of cancers, including prostate, breast and ovarian

  • Reduces the risk of melanoma

  • Halts and even reverses the effects of bone diseases like rickets, osteomalacia and osteoporosis

  • Relieves depression and lessens the symptoms of schizophrenia

  • Enhances the function of your pancreas

  • Increases insulin sensitivity and prevents diabetes

  • Promotes weight loss

  • Provides more restful sleep

  • Lends energy, vitality, and stamina

  • Lowers blood pressure

  • Brings high blood sugar levels down

  • Lowers the amount of bad cholesterol in your blood

  • Increases white blood cell activity and strengthens immunity

  • Increases muscle strength and coordination

The following video is nothing short of amazing. It talks about the miracle of vitamin D and how it can help prevent everything from colds to a 60% reduction in cancer. Supplementing with vitamin D could also be a better choice than taking a flu shot!

Vitamin D: Essential for Prevention of Diseases

So how much do you need? I don't think that has been determined yet, but we do know how much the body uses on a daily basis. In a study performed at Creighton University in Omaha, researchers found that adults will use 3,000 to 5,000 units of vitamin D per day, if it is available. We also know that a young adult with fair skin makes 20,000 units of vitamin D in less than half an hour of strong sun exposure. Many scientists have begun pushing to sharply boost the official recommendations for how much vitamin D everyone should get daily, either by taking supplements or by getting more sun exposure. If you think you can get all the vitamin D you need from the food you eat, think again. To put it in perspective, look at how much vitamin D you would get from various foods compared to sunshine.

  • 8 oz. glass of fortified milk has 100 IU and equals 45 seconds of sunshine
  • 1 egg has 20 IU and that equals 8 seconds of sunshine
  • 1 tablespoon of butter has 8 IU and that equals 5 seconds of sunshine
  • Fish (canned or fresh) contains 200-400 IU and that equals 1.5-3 minutes of sunshine.
  • Cod Liver Oil contains 1360 IU and is equivalent to 8 minutes of sunshine
  • Total American Daily Diet contains 200-250 IU which is equal to 1.5-2 minutes of sunshine
*Calculated at maximum total-body sun exposure for one-half hour at noontime in the summer sun at a southern latitude= 10,000 IU. This is a very optimistic estimate which assumed ideal conditions to produce natural vitamin D. In real life, probably 10-fold more time needs to be spent in the sun to produce the amount of vitamin D levels above. Source: The Uncensored Family Guide To Vitamin D.

Michael F. Holick, a Boston University scientist argues that instead of the 200 to 600 international units a day that current recommendations suggest, most people should be getting at least 1,000 units a day. In a controversial new book, "The UV Advantage," Holick recommends exposing the hands, face, arms and legs to the sun for five to 15 minutes a day a few days a week, which he says would be enough to generate that amount without increasing the risk for skin cancer. Many people are not getting even that amount of sun exposure on a regular basis, Holick and others say.

Click Here To Read An Article By Michael Holick In The New England Journal of Medicine That Talks About Vitamin D Deficiency

But when the sun is low in the sky during winter, it can be difficult to get enough sun exposure, even if you spend time outdoors. Many cancers, most notably breast, colon and prostate cancer, seem to increase the farther you get from the equator, where exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun is greatest.

If you are an African American, you are at even greater risk. The darker your skin, the more UVB rays from the sun are filtered out or blocked. These are the type of rays that cause the skin to naturally produce vitamin D. African Americans have about half the levels of vitamin D than lighter skinned peoples. "The highest rate of prostate cancer is among African Americans, followed by countries in northern Europe. How are blacks like Scandinavians? They don't look alike, but in some important ways they have to be alike," said Gary G. Schwartz, a cancer researcher at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. "One way that they are alike is both groups have very low levels of vitamin D." African Americans may be suffering from unrecognized deficiencies of vitamin D that increase the risk of bone problems and perhaps a host of other diseases, a growing number of scientists say. One federal study of women nationwide found that perhaps nearly half of African American women of childbearing age may be vitamin D deficient.
Black Americans, who are often vitamin D–deficient, are more prone to contracting tuberculosis than are whites, and tend to have a more aggressive form of the disease.

While there could be many other explanations, the idea that vitamin D may help prevent malignancies has been buttressed by animal and laboratory studies indicating it can act as a brake on cell growth, preventing the uncontrolled cell division that is cancer.
Similarly, vitamin D appears to damp down the immune system, and researchers have also found associations among sun exposure, vitamin D levels and the incidence of "autoimmune diseases" such as multiple sclerosis, lupus and diabetes, in which the immune system attacks the body.

Some studies suggest vitamin D can reduce blood pressure, which would cut the risk for heart disease and strokes -- the nation's leading causes of death. Others suggest that low vitamin D levels may contribute to depression and other psychiatric conditions.

According to Dr. Louise Parker, vitamin D is proving to have an affect on many different cancers. She is an epidemiologist and a world expert in the environmental exposures that can lead to cancer. " On the average, 1000 units per day is safe and is probably effective in reducing the risk of colon cancer, and maybe other cancers as well," says Dr. Parker. Click on the following article to read more.

A Ray Of Sunshine In The Fight Against Cancer: Vitamin D May Help

Vitamin D can help prevent hip fractures and osteoporosis in the elderly. If calcium is the vehicle to healthy bones and avoidance of osteoporosis, then vitamin D3 is the highway. Studies show patients with osteoporosis treated with vitamin D3 increased calcium absorption and reduced bone loss. Vitamin D needs magnesium to convert it to its most active form. If there is depletion in magnesium, this can lead to a syndrome of vitamin D resistance.

The Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging reported that vitamin D supplementation had a greater benefit towards relieving the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and the depression associated with it. Click on the following link to read about the study.

Vitamin D vs broad spectrum phototherapy in the treatment of seasonal affective disorder.

If you think that you might have low levels of vitamin D in your blood, you can have your doctor do a D25-hydroxy blood test to see what your levels are. A regular blood panel will not determiine this. It must be a D25-hydroxy test to measure you vitamin D3 levels. Make sure you are specific about asking for this test.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Alzheimer's Prevention

Walking and Moderate Exercise Help Prevent Dementia

Seniors who regularly walk and get other forms of moderate exercise appear to significantly lower their risk of developing vascular dementia, the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease, according to a newly published study.

The four-year study involved 749 men and women in Italy who were over age 65 and did not have memory problems at the beginning of the study. Researchers measured the amount of energy exerted in the participants’ weekly physical activities, including walking, climbing stairs, and moderate activities, such as house and yard work, gardening, and light carpentry. By the end of the study, 54 people developed Alzheimer’s disease and 27 developed vascular dementia.

The study found the top one-third of participants who exerted the most energy walking were 27 percent less likely to develop vascular dementia than those people in the bottom one-third of the group. Participants who scored in the top one-third for the most energy exerted in moderate activities lowered their risk of vascular dementia by 29% and people who scored in the top one-third for total physical activity lowered their risk by 24% compared to those in the bottom one-third.

“Our findings show moderate physical activity, such as walking, and all physical activities combined lowered the risk of vascular dementia in the elderly independent of several socio-demographic, genetic and medical factors,” said study author Dr. Giovanni Ravaglia, with University Hospital S. Orsola Malpighi, in Bologna, Italy. “It’s important to note that an easy-to-perform moderate activity like walking provided the same cognitive benefits as other, more demanding activities.”

Ravaglia says it’s possible that physical activity may improve cerebral blood flow and lower the risk of cerebrovascular disease, which is a risk factor for vascular dementia, but further research is needed about the mechanisms operating between physical activity and a person’s memory.

Contrary to some reports, the study found that physical activity was not associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease, but Ravaglia says more research is needed before concluding that Alzheimer’s disease is not preventable through exercise.

The study, published in the online issue of the medical journal Neurology, was supported by grants from the Italian Ministry of University and Scientific Research.

Key vitamin deficiency linked to tripled risk of dementia: study

Tue Feb 5, 9:25 AM ET
PARIS (AFP) - Lack of folate, also called vitamin B-9, may triple the risk of developing dementia in old age, according to a study published Tuesday.

Researchers in South Korea measured naturally occurring folate levels in 518 elderly persons, none of whom showed any signs of dementia, and then tracked their development over 2.4 years.
At the end of the period, 45 of the patients had developed dementia, including 34 diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, said the study, published by the British Medical Association's Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.

When the researchers, led by Jin-Sang Yoon of Chonnam National University in Kwangju, South Korea, remeasured folate levels, they uncovered a strong link with the dementia.

Even after other factors were taken into account -- including age, disability, alcohol consumption, weight change -- "the onset of dementia was significantly associated with an exaggerated decline in folate," the researchers concluded.

Folate and folic acid, another form of the compound, are essential for the creation of new cells in the body.

The compound occurs naturally in leafy vegetables such as spinach, turnip greens, lettuces, dried beans and peas and in certain fruits.

An study published last year in The Lancet showed an improvement in short-term memory, mental agility and verbal fluency among persons over 50 who took a daily dose of 800 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid. The US recommended daily dose is 400 mcg.

Taking folic acid before conception and throughout the first trimester helps a mother ensure that her child will not develop certain brain and spinal cord defects, including spina bifida, according to previous research.