The start of the school year means a return to bed times, less television, and better eating; all healthy habits that often get cast aside during the summer months.

These are all incredibly important for a child’s overall development as well as have an impact on their abilities to succeed academically.

While breakfast and good hygiene are vital, there’s one other habit that can greatly benefit the health and well-being of your child; folic acid.

Yes, folic acid’s primary purpose is reducing the likeliness of unborn children developing neural tube defects while in the womb. But there are other benefits of the B-9 vitamin that can be taken advantage of as young as age 10.

Adding 400 mcg of folic acid to your daughter’s daily regime will help them maintain healthy hair as they age, and it promotes stronger, healthier nail growth.

For teenagers ages 13-19, folic acid promotes healthy, glowing skin, healthy nails and hair, and can help with every teenager’s worst fear; acne. It also has been shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer, heart disease, and stroke.

For those women old enough to conceive, taking folic acid regularly will benefit them in the case of an unplanned pregnancy. To gain the full benefits of folic acid, it must already be in the system at the time of conception. The first trimester is when babies are at risk of developing a neural tube defect (NTD). With unplanned pregnancies, often by the time the mother realizes she is pregnant, it can be too late to receive the full benefits of folic acid if she is not already taking it.

In the state of Arkansas, over the last five years, 10% of all infants born with NTDs were born to teen mothers. Folic acid can reduce the risk of NTDs and spina bifida by up to 70% if taken every day.

The other reason to start young, is that it is much easier to develop habits at a young age, and more difficult the older we get. Teaching our kids healthy habits early sets them up for a better chance at success in education, health, and overall well-being when they head out on their own.

Talk to your child’s doctor about adding folic acid to their daily regimen.