A pair of recent studies have shown how a lack of the B vitamin folate can harm the health of athletes as well as young women and, quite possibly, their babies.
A CDC study that examined blood tests of 4,500 women of childbearing years over a period of five years found an 8 percent to 16 percent decline in folate levels.
This marks the first time a decline has been observed since the start of health campaigns urging women to get enough folic acid.
Folate deficiencies in mothers have previously been shown to be a factor in serious birth defects of the spine and brain, known as neural tube defects.
Meanwhile, another study has shown that athletes who are deficient in B vitamins, including folate, perform less well and repair and build muscle tissue more slowly.