Folic acid Benefits And Its ImportanceFolic acid are forms of the water-soluble vitamin B9. Folic acid, which is also called folate, is a B vitamin. The best food sources of folic acid are fortified cereals. Folic acid plays an important role in the production of red blood cells and helps your baby's neural tube develop into her brain and spinal cord.
Folic acid actually have no side effects, hence it is said to be the safe substance to consume for health benefits. Folic acid is also important in the metabolism of protein and the prevention of anemia. Therefore, folic acid is said to be very essential for pregnant women and in prevention of many severe medical conditions including Spina bifida (split spine), which is a severe spinal cord disease found in infants.
Folic acid is a water soluble vitamin beneficial for almost all aspects of human health. The biggest benefit of folic acid is observed in pregnant women and women planning to conceive. Women in childbearing age must consume at least 800-1000 mcg of folic acid in their regular diet. Folic acid is necessary for the healthy development of our cells, a healthy brain and protection from cell damage that may lead to future cancers. Folic acid aids drugs used to treat depression and may even hold great promise for the growing autism epidemic that faces the world today.
What Folic Acid Does:
Folic acid helps the body to make RNA and DNA, the body’s genetic material that contains all the code for new cells. Because of this role, deficiencies of folic acid can have far-reaching effects, and is especially important during pregnancy, infancy and adolescence when the body is growing rapidly. Folic acid also is used in creating red blood cells and regulating the use of iron by the body. It also works closely with vitamins B6 and B12 to help control levels of the amino acid, homo-cysteine. Researchers suspect that elevated levels of homo-cysteine may be implicated in a number of illnesses and conditions, including come cancers, heart disease, diabetes and depression.
Folic Acid Benefits
1. Fetal development
Erythrocyte production - the adequate and appropriate development of an unborn child’s brain and spinal cord - is dependent on foods rich in folate. A lack of folate during pregnancy can lead to gaps in the development of the spinal cord, which can result in paralysis, brain damage, or a stillborn child.
2. Production of red blood cells
Folate is key in the development of red blood cells or erythrocytes. A lack of this compound can make the body susceptible to cancer. In addition, the body’s defense mechanism, the white blood cells, are also manufactured in the presence of folate supplements.
3. Thwarting heart disease
Folic acid supplements also help the heart stay healthy and function optimally. Folate deficiency can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, coronary complications, and strokes in patients. In the U.S., after bread and cereal companies were asked to add vitamin B12 to their products, the rate of heart disease and stroke decreased by about 15 percent. Folic acid also helps remove homo-cysteine, a toxic compound that can lead to severe artery damage if not eliminated from the blood.
4. Helps in depression
Several studies have indicated that folate supplements can reduce depression. A deficiency may cause an increased risk of depression and dementia.
5. Helps keep brain young
Adequate folate levels are necessary for proper brain functioning. Studies have shown that folate benefits the brain by slowing down the effects of aging.
Recent study shows that a sufficient intake of folic acid lowers the rate of recurring miscarriages. More benefits are mentioned below.
• Increases breast milk
• Prevents Alzheimer's disease
• Good for skin care
• Improves Brain development and functioning
• Prevents cancer
• Improves Fertility
• Prevents eye diseases like Macular degeneration
Sources of Folic Acid
There are two main sources of folic acid:
• Vitamin Supplements
Folate and folic acid are different terms for the same B vitamin. Folate is found naturally in foods and folic acid is the synthetic form of the vitamin found in multivitamins and supplements.
The body does not use the natural form of folic acid (folate) as easily as the synthetic form. We cannot be sure that eating foods containing folate would have the same benefits as consuming folic acid in a multivitamin. Also, even if you eat a healthy, well-balanced diet, you might not get all the nutrients you need every day from food alone. Even women who eat foods enriched with folic acid are still not getting all that they need. That’s why it’s important for all women of childbearing age to take a multivitamin containing a minimum of 0.4 mg of folic acid. High-risk women need to take even more folic acid every day.
Folate food sources
Good dietary sources of folate include: green leafy vegetables like spinach and broccoli, bananas, strawberries, oranges, tomatoes, asparagus, legumes, yeast, cereals, mushrooms, fish, eggs, poultry, meat (specifically organs like liver and kidneys), and dairy.
Symptoms of Folic Acid Deficiency:
Folic acid deficiency can cause poor growth, tongue inflammation, gingivitis, loss of appetite, shortness of breath, diarrhea, irritability, forgetfulness, and mental sluggishness. Folic acid deficiency in pregnant women has been proven to cause neural tube birth defects in the newborn.
Recommended Amount: How Much You Need
Aim to get 700 micrograms (mcg) of folate per day. The average daily diet contains about 300 mcg, so choose a multivitamin with 400 mcg of folic acid to top off your daily dose. Pregnant women as well as people who have cancer, severe burns, or skin diseases may need extra folate to maintain healthy levels.
Don't exceed 1,000 mcg of folic acid per day - too much could lead to nerve damage or vitamin B12 deficiency.
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