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E. The Importance of Folic Acid

Narrator: This is Science Today. A lack of folic acid in the diet can lead to DNA damage, which biologist Bruce Ames of the University of California, Berkeley says causes various degenerative and cognitive diseases. Folate, a B vitamin, is found in leafy green vegetables and orange juice.

Ames: And if you don't get enough, it's a disaster because it increases the risk of heart disease it increases the risk of cancer.

Narrator: Ames and his colleagues discovered a substance called uracil is over-produced in the DNA of those who have folic acid deficiencies.

Ames: DNA has repair systems always cruising along the DNA looking for trouble, and when one of these systems sees a uracil, it just takes it out of there because normally uracil comes from some other kind of damage.

Narrator: When too many of these nicks are made in the chromosomes, Ames says it falls apart and is hard to repair. The solution: eat plenty of fruits and veggies and take a supplement, just in case. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.