SYDNEY, March 19 (Xinhua) -- Women who are pregnant or planning for pregnancy may be at risk of losing folic acid through sun exposure, Australian researchers warned Wednesday.
A new study by the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) has found ultraviolet (UV) exposure significantly depletes folate levels in young women, the university said.
Professor Michael Kimlin and Dr David Borradale, from QUT's AusSun Research Lab, said the study of 45 young healthy women in Brisbane aged 18 to 47, showed high rates of sun exposure accounted up to a 20 percent reduction in folate levels.
"This is concerning as the benefits of folic acid are well- known, with health professionals urging young women to take a folic acid supplement prior to and during pregnancy," Kimlin said in a statement.
"Folate has been found to reduce miscarriage and neural tube defects such as spina bifida in unborn babies. The NHMRC (National Health and Medical Research Council) recommends pregnant women or those planning a pregnancy take 500 micrograms a day."
He said women who are outside during the most UV intense time of the day, between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. with inadequate sun protection are at risk of reducing their folate levels.
Borradale said further research including a controlled clinical trial was needed to show the link between UV exposure and folate depletion.
"The results of this study reinforce the need for adequate folate levels prior to and during pregnancy."
The study was published in the Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology.