4 Benefits of Folic Acid for Optimal Health
Folic acid is a variety of the B vitamin family that is typically present in foods like peas dried beans, oranges, whole-wheat products, lentils, liver, asparagus, beets, broccoli, spinach and Brussels sprouts. Folic acid assists in producing and maintaining new cells, and also helps avert changes to DNA that may become malignant. For therapeutic purposes, folic acid is used to treat folic acid deficiency and certain types of anemia rooted in folic acid deficiency. Folic acid is also occasionally used along with other medications to cure pernicious anemia. These are just among the few uses of this B vitamin and prior to taking folic acid, be sure to tell your physician if you have kidney issues, any type of cancer, an infection, if you abuse alcohol, or if you have anemia that has not been diagnosed by a physician and established with laboratory results. Also consult your doctor about taking folic acid while pregnant or while breast-feeding.
Raising your dietary intake of foods rich in folate is also vital as such foods usually also provide a wealth of other nutrients that act synergistically to bolster optimal health.
4 Health Benefits of Folic Acid
1. Folic Acid May Lessen Risk of Birth Defects
Ample folic acid consumption is important during pregnancy for protection against neural tube defects in the fetus as well as a miscarriage. Recent studies indicate that the father’s folate levels prior to conception may be just as significant. In a recent study, paternal folate deficiency was linked to greater birth defects in babies compared to babes with no paternal folate shortages. (1)
2. Folic Acid May Lower Chances of Depression
Deficient folate levels has been associated with an increased risk of depression as well as poor reaction to anti-depression management. Folate may help treat depression by averting an oversupply of homocysteine from developing in the body, which can block blood in addition to other nutrients from getting to the brain. (2)
Surplus homocysteine inhibits the creation of the neurohormones serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which control sleep, emotion and appetite.
Taking folic acid has not been recommended as a treatment by itself for depression, but it could very well aid in improving reactions to antidepressants like fluoxetine, especially in females.
3. Folic Acid Helps in Maintaining Heart Health
Folic acid supplements have been observed to decrease the status of homocysteine. As high amounts of homocysteine are connected with a higher risk of heart disease, some scientists have suggested that folic acid and B12 may consequently lessen the danger of cardiovascular disease. (3)
Studies show that such supplements themselves do not reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, but they seem to provide some protection against stroke.
4. Folic Acid May Lower Your Risk of Developing Certain Types of Cancer
Low amounts of folate intake are linked to breast cancer in females, while numerous studies have proposed an inverse association between folate status and the risk of lung, ovarian, cervical, colorectal, esophageal in addition to other cancers. (4)
While the method of protection is still not known, scientists think that folate’s protective properties are related to its role in RNA and DNA production as well as the deterrence of undesirable mutations. There is no proof that folate supplementation gives similar anti-cancer benefits, but there have been instances where high doses of folate were linked to an increased risk of cancer progression
Foods Packed with Folate
The body’s capacity to absorb, use and keep folate varies significantly among foods and is hard to measure. There exists 150 different types of folate however you can expect losses of 50 to 90% as a result of cooking, processing or during storage.
The optimal sources of folic acid are legumes, green vegetables and liver. Lentils and asparagus are also easily sourced but still great sources of folate. For a wide spectrum of nutrients, be sure to include broccoli, beans, spinach, lettuce, avocado, egg yolks, bananas and mushrooms as well.
Are There Health Risks Associated with Folate Consumption?
High amounts of intravenous folic acid could trigger seizures, along with a raised risk of the development of certain cancers. Dietary amounts of folate have not, on the other hand, been linked to any adverse effects. This is an example of how the source of the nutrient matters just as much as the dosage.
Consuming folate in doses of more than 1000mcg for adults or 800mcg for those 18 or younger have been found to solve vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 deficiency could cause irreversible nerve damage and in extreme cases, paralysis.
At the end of the day it is the entire diet that is most vital in disease prevention and attaining optimal health. It is always preferred to eat a diet with a diversity of foods
Should You Take Folic Acid Supplements?
Among females of the childbearing age group, folate supplementation has a noticeable and significant benefit, bringing down the occurrence of neural tube defects. Its use in this group is data-based and evidently effective.
For management in conditions such as advanced kidney disease, folic acid could be of some use. However, when we examine the use of folic acid for primary prevention, the evidence is less apparent.
Supplementation in individuals where no deficiency has been established has no further health gains, There are in fact, bothersome signs that it may increase cancer risks, possibly by “nourishing” existing cancers. Men, women and children who have not been diagnosed with folic acid deficiency, may be better off not supplementing at all.
What about fortification of our food? Is this harming and hurting us? The benefits on neural tube defects’ occurrence have been established, but the disadvantages have not been confirmed yet. Nevertheless, folate’s unfolding story may turn into a cautionary account about the consequences of supplementation and fortification with the hope of enhanced health results. To be safe, if we are past our childbearing years, we may be safer relying only on dietary sources for folic acid.
Perhaps the prudent thing to do is hold the multivitamins with folic acid, and instead, gobble up the spinach. Maybe Popeye was onto something after all.