History of Folate and It’s Importance During Pregnancy

By Cameron Saylor, Recent ASU Nutrition Student

Throughout history, the discovery and use of vitamins in the human diet has been an uphill battle. Folate is one of many co-enzymatic B vitamins needed for DNA and RNA synthesis as well as the formation of red blood cells. Beginning in 1855, Thomas Addison a well-known physician and lecturer, presented several patients with what he described as idiopathic anemia. All of his patients awaited the same fate of smooth-waxy skin followed by breathlessness and ultimately death. He noted that the prior to death, all patients were unresponsive to all remedial efforts and upon death presented with no lesion or adequate explanation for death. This disease became known as pernicious anemia because of the ever-present smooth and waxy appearance in the patient’s skin.

There was no significant progress in finding a cure for pernicious anemia until 1897 when F. Martius and O. von Lubarsch made the connection between pernicious anemia and achlorhydria. Then in 1925, George Whipple found that dogs with severe anemia could be cured by administering a diet of liver. The B vitamin complex was later developed as being a necessary component that aids in digestion in the stomach and is readily absorbed by the liver and kidneys.

It wasn’t until 1928 when Lucy Wills traveled to Bombay investigating macrocytic anemia, a disease prevalent among pregnant female textile workers. Wills began her research by first analyzing the environment and determined that this anemia was most prevalent in poorer populations that lacked diets rich in proteins, fruits, and vegetables. She then decided to conduct an experiment on albino rats in which she fed them a modified and deficient diet. She prevented the microcytic anemia by adding yeast extract, a substance already proven to be rich in B vitamins, to their diet (B Vitamins, 2012). This solution proved to be a positive cure in treating the macrocytic anemia in the pregnant textile workers. Wills traveled back to her home in England where she kept a detailed account of all the macrocytic anemia patients that she treated with her then named ‘yeast extract’.

Wills then spent time researching her findings on monkeys where she was able to reproduce the same anemia after feeding them a diet deficient in B vitamins (B Vitamins, 2012). Around the same time, Paul L. Day reported the same findings when using brewer’s yeast. Another researcher named Albert Hogan developed his own study using chickens.

In 1941 however, Wills’ yeast extract was renamed Folic acid after being successfully isolated from spinach by Edmond Snell. The product was later synthesized in pure-crystalline form by Bob Stokstad in 1943. After the synthesis of folic acid, it became widely apparent that it was an effective treatment for megaloblastic anemia and all types of anemia such as megaloblastic anemia of sprue, celiac disease, pregnancy, and malnutrition. Deficiencies in B vitamins were later linked to low white blood cells and platelets as well as neural tube defects.

Today, pregnant women are encouraged to take folic acid supplements while pregnant, particularly during the early stages of pregnancy. The recommended daily value for folic acid is 400 micrograms per day. This recommendation has changed from the previous 1989 recommendation of 180 micrograms for women and 200 micrograms for men. Foods containing folate range from grains, meats, and beans to fruits and vegetables, particularly leafy green vegetables.

Indeed, the discovery of folate has come a long way from its original roots as being misdiagnosed as a cure for what is now called Addison’s disease to prevent major birth defects. Folate in present day is most related to being the most preventative measure when preventing spina bifida in newborn babies. There is still much to be understood about the B vitamins and their role in enzymatic functioning.


For more interesting and informative articles check out the Fill Your Plate blog! New articles are posted every week.

For for information about how to get more folic acid in your diet and to learn more about the history of vitamins, check out these pages:




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Grapes Make August Great

By Bailey Roden, Arizona Farm Bureau Intern

August brings us “in season” grapes, and in season grapes bring us many great things! In honor of the amazing fruit being “in season” this month take a look at all these amazing articles about grapes:

Grapes are great and good for us! Be sure to grab some locally grown grapes at a farmer’s market near you! For some fun recipes for grapes check out the awesome recipe section on Fill Your Plate.

Posted in Ag Facts, Arizona, Arizona farmers and ranchers, Cooking, Diet Tips, Farmer's Markets, Fill Your Plate, Focus on Agriculture, Food, Fruit, Grocery, Health Tips, Healthy Eating, Produce | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Filling Your Plate With Beets

By Sarah LeVesque, Recent ASU Nutrition Student

Beta vulgaris!

Almost sounds like a spell in a whimsical film on sorcerers. But it won’t make beets appear on your plate. If it did, you’d be filling your plate with vital nutrients and fiber! It’s an intimidating vegetable in the produce section. If you get past its looks, beetroots can offer many health benefits. They’re high in inorganic nitrates, consist mostly of water, and have been studied for its impact on athletic stamina. If you’ve never cooked beets before and want to try them, don’t worry! Now in the grocery sections, they offer precooked beets. I usually grab a pack (about 4-5 beets) and add them to salads throughout the week.

My best advice to anyone who wants to try boiling beets at home is don’t skin them! Leaving the skin and an inch of the stem prevents bleeding, flavor loss, and keeps your fingers from turning beetroot red! When they’re done boiling, the skin comes off easier too.

Also, don’t throw out those greens! A cup of raw beet greens contains lutein and zeaxanthin, which are types of carotenoid phytonutrients that keep our eyes healthy and our vision sharp throughout our lives.

Beets are packed with nutrients!

Beets are in season winter, summer, and fall. Just one cup of cooked beets is less than 60 calories. Vitamin A, C, D, E, and K are all found in beets. Beets also offer B vitamins: B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and B12. That’s a lot of B’s and an effortless way to remember what beets offer!

Beets are also very good sources of manganese, potassium, and copper. Manganese is an essential mineral. It plays a role in the digestion of cholesterols, carbohydrates, and proteins. It’s also involved in bone production. Potassium is an electrolyte that helps maintain blood pressure, nerve function, and muscle contraction. Copper is important for iron absorption and works with iron to form red blood cells. Copper and manganese are important cofactors for antioxidants also.

So adding beets to your plate will get you full and full of nutrients. 

As if these little beets couldn’t offer anymore, they are also host to good sources of fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin C, iron, and vitamin B6. Fiber helps keep blood sugar levels in check, lowers cholesterol levels, aids digestion, and can also help you stay fuller longer.  Magnesium is important because it’s involved in many reactions in our bodies. From creating new proteins from amino acids to helping repair DNA and RNA, magnesium is a helper molecule! Magnesium has also been studied as a booster in exercise performance, fighter against depression, and can help fight migraines.

Beets are excellent sources of folate. It’s an important B vitamin for women who are pregnant as it has been shown to reduce the risk of birth defects. It is also an important vitamin for cellular function and tissue growth.

Plant Compounds in Beets

Betanin is responsible for the color of beets. It’s been studied for its possible health benefits. It’s an exceptional antioxidant because of its electro donating abilities. It also exhibits anti-inflammatory properties.

Beets are high in inorganic nitrates. Nitrates have been in the spotlight for its health risks but studies have shown that the benefits do outweigh the risks when it comes to eating our vegetables. Research has shown that beets and beetroot juice actually help lower blood pressure. Nitrates are also being studied for its ability to enhance physical performance. Nitrates help our mitochondria be more efficient, helping us out during high intensity and endurance exercises.

Beetroots are power vegetables. They help lower blood pressure, can increase your exercise performance and are packed with nutrients that our bodies need. Even the beet greens are good for you! Beets are great on salads, as a soup, and as a juice. There is even makeup that uses the beetroot red color, which isn’t doubtful since it stains!

I bet it’s been a while since you’ve had them in your kitchen! Add some variety, try something new, and fill your plate with beets. They’re good for you!

Learn more about beets!

Most importantly our Arizona Farmers grow lots of these wonderful beets!

For awesome recipes for beets check out this Fill Your Plate recipe section! You can also locate where beets are locally sold in Arizona on the Fill Your Plate website!

Posted in Arizona farmers and ranchers, Cooking, Diet Tips, Farmer's Markets, Fill Your Plate, Focus on Agriculture, Food, Food Facts, Green Matters, Grocery, Health Tips, Healthy Eating, Produce | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

BBQ is in the Air

By Bailey Roden, Arizona Farm Bureau Intern

It’s August, the weather is beautiful and the time is perfect for a BBQ! Summer is a time where everyone gathers and enjoys the warm breeze while filling their stomach with arguably the greatest food in the world.

To ensure you have a fantastic barbeque check out these amazing articles on the Fill Your Plate blog:

These articles are jam-packed with amazing information that are sure to help your BBQ go perfectly!

For more fun articles check out the Fill Your Plate Blog! Or if you’re looking for some awesome recipes be sure to check out the recipe section on the Fill Your Plate website.

Posted in Arizona, Arizona Pork, Beef, Cooking, Fill Your Plate, Food, Grocery, Pork, Produce, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sweet Treats and Good Times

By Bailey Roden, Arizona Farm Bureau Intern,

I used to be the type of person that went to the same restaurant and ordered the same thing every time. It’s because I became comfortable in what I knew. However, this past year all of that changed! I love going to different places and ordering new things! I always feel my eyes getting big whenever I see the dessert menu! I have made a list of all the places that have caught my eyes and heart with their great tasting creations!

I hope that you get the opportunity to try some of these sweet treats!

For more fun and informative articles check out the Fill Your Plate blog! New articles are posted every week! Or if you’re looking to make your own sweet creations check out the Fill Your Plate recipe section.

Posted in Arizona, Cooking, Dairy, Fill Your Plate, Food, Food Facts, Fruit, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment