Folic acid is an essential nutrient from the vitamin B complex group. Folate, as a cofactor, is involved in numerous intracellular reactions, and this is reflected in the various derivatives that have been isolated from biological sources. Folic acid is a water-soluble vitamin, which is synthetically-produced and found in fortified foods and supplements. It was urged that all women of reproductive age take 400μg of folic acid each day, in addition to consuming folate-rich foods from a varied diet. Folate is essential for DNA synthesis and repair, and deficiency results in macrocytic anaemia. Folic acid deficiency is one of the most prevalent malnutrition problems of vitamins. A deficiency in folate leads to a lack of adequate DNA replication and consequent impaired cell division, especially in the hemopoietic tissue of the bone marrow and the epithelial cells of the gastrointestinal tract.
Folic acid deficiency in humans has been linked with megaloblastic anaemia, neural tube defects in the neonate (Spina Bifida), and heart disease. Deficiencies of folate can occur for many reasons, including reduced intake, increased metabolism, and/or increased requirements as well as through genetic defects.
Recently, among the records on birth and terminations of pregnancies, in the catchment area of Child Health and Mortality Prevention Surveillance (CHAMPS) study, many stillbirths are born with anecephaly (lack of brain) and many babies are also born with spinal bifida (protruded spinal cord between the bone junctions of the vertebrae).
As indicated above these medical conditions are linked to folic acid deficnicy in the diets of the women for long priod. As the diets are deficnt in folic acid, as the women grows and get pregnant, she herself is deficit with the folic acid. The women is passing all the necessary nutrients including follic acid to the fetus during pregnancy. This means if she doesn’t have sufficintn supply, while the babay is in a dire demand of this nutrient, this problem would occure.
Therefore, the high prevalence of folate deficiency needs emphasis on folate intake through dietary diversification and appropriate public health interventions. There is a need to tackle the problem through the development of a folate-rich food product from locally produced and introduced food sources (sorghum, maize, legumes, chaya,…) with a low cost and simple technology that can be applied by any women of reproductive age. Moreover, there is a need for promoting utilization of folic acid-rich food sources by women of reproductive age.
The objectives of this pilot activity are to:
- Identify and collecting folate (folic acid) rich food sources;
- Characterize conenctration of folate (folic acid) rich sources among the collected food items;
- Formulate/develope folic acid rich food product from locally available food sources;
- Characterize the newly developed folic acid rich food product; and
- Do a sensory evaluation (hedonic test) of the product producted locally.