Health benefits of folic acid
Folate or folic acid is commonly known as vitamin B9 and is one of many essential vitamins. It plays an important role in many bodily functions, including cell repair and maintenance, DNA synthesis, amino acid metabolism, and the formation of leukocytes and erythrocytes. It prevents obesity and various cancers, including colon cancer, as well as preventing heart disease. Adequate folate intake is extremely important during periods of rapid growth such as pregnancy, infancy, and adolescence.
Vitamin B9 is a water-soluble B vitamin. Folate occurs naturally in food, and folic acid is the synthetic form of this vitamin. Since 1998, folic acid has been added to cold cereals, flour, breads, pasta, bakery items, cookies, and crackers, as required by federal law.
Folate deficiency can occur because of inadequate diet, alcoholism, and an increased requirement due to growth or intestinal disorders causing malabsorption.
How much folate do I need per day?
Folate is essential for cell growth; women in their childbearing years often require between 600 and 800 micrograms of folate to prevent birth defects such as anencephaly and spina bifida during pregnancy by 50% to 70%. If a woman has a family history of birth defects, their doctor may recommend four milligrams (4,000 micrograms) of folate. Nursing mothers will even require 500 micrograms of folate for lactation.
As per medicalnewstoday, the daily folate requirement by the body can be summarized as:
- Birth to 6 months: 65 mcg
- Infants 7-12 months: 80 mcg
- Children 1-3 years: 150 mcg
- Children 4-8 years: 200 mcg
- Children 9-13 years: 300 mcg
- Children and adults 14 and older: 400 mcg
- During pregnancy: 600 mcg
- During lactation: 500 mcg
Inadequate folate in your diet can causes folate deficiency. Deficiency may also occur if you have a disease or genetic mutation that prevents your body from absorbing or converting folate to its usable form. Folate deficiency can cause anemia. Anemia is a condition in which you have too few RBCs. Anemia can deprive your tissues of oxygen it needs because RBCs carry the oxygen. This may affect their function.
Folate is particularly important in women of childbearing age. A folate deficiency during pregnancy can lead to birth defects. Most people get enough folate from food. Many foods now have additional folate to prevent deficiency.
Symptoms of Folate deficiency
The symptoms of folate deficiency include:
- gray hair
- mouth sores
- tongue swelling
- growth problems
The symptoms of anemia that occur due to folate deficiency include:
- persistent fatigue
- pale skin
- shortness of breath
Health Benefits of folate/folic acid
Folate helps in fetus Development
Folate deficiency during early pregnancy can lead to neural tube defects. 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. Studies have found increased folate levels from one month prior to conception to 3 months afterward can reduce the chance of these defects by 50%.
Folate helps in the 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.
Folate helps in avoiding Anemia
Folic acid deficiency has a strong connection to anemia, which is due to a lack of red blood cells. Weakness, tiredness, and forgetfulness are all symptoms of anemia. Additional amounts of folate are required for people with anemia.
Folate helps in improving the immunity of body
Increased amounts of dietary and supplemental folate can improve immune system function, especially in seniors. The vitamin is known to increase T cells, lymphocytes important in immune response.
Folate helps in promoting Sperm Viability
Studies exploring the role of folate in spermatogenesis have linked it to sperm health and function. Men with a lower folate intake have been shown to have sperm with incorrect chromosomal structure. A 2012 study reported that previously infertile patients who took a nutritional supplement, which included folic acid, experienced significant improvement in sperm motility and successfully achieved pregnancy with their partners.
Folate helps in treating depression
Folate and vitamin B12 are necessary for a healthy brain, and patients with depression or anxiety are often deficient in these nutrients. The vitamin can also improve cognitive function and depressive symptoms in people with alcoholism and older adults with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Folate is good for heart health
Folic acid (and vitamin B12) supplements have been found to lower levels of homocysteine. As elevated levels of homocysteine are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, some researchers had suggested that folic acid and B12 may, therefore, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. People with above-normal levels of homocysteine are 1.7 times more likely to develop heart disease and 2.5 times more likely to suffer a stroke.
Folate may reduce the risk of cancer
ow levels of folate intake are associated with an increased risk of breast cancer in women, while several epidemiological studies have suggested an inverse association between folate status and the risk of colorectal, lung, pancreatic, esophageal, stomach, cervical, ovarian and other cancers.
Provides Neurological Support
Research suggests there may be a link between folate levels and neural health. A Korean study of elderly patients found that those suffering from dementia had the highest levels of homocysteine, and the lowest folate levels. Patients in the control group who did not suffer from dementia had higher folate levels.
Foods rich in folate/folic acid
Here is a list of some of the food items which are an excellent source of folic acid.
List of Foods rich in folate/folic acid
|Food||Serving Size||Cals||Folate Amount (mcg)|
|Turnip Greens||1 cup||28.8||169.92|
|Romaine Lettuce||2 cups||16||127.84|
|Bok Choy||1 cup||20.4||69.7|
|Pinto Beans||1 cup||244.5||294.12|
|Garbanzo Beans||1 cup||269||282.08|
|Black Beans||1 cup||227||256.28|
|Navy Beans||1 cup||254.8||254.8|
|Kidney Beans||1 cup||224.8||230.1|
|Brussels Sprouts||1 cup||56.2||93.6|
|Green Peas||1 cup||115.7||86.78|
|Bell Peppers||1 cup||28.5||42.32|
|Green Beans||1 cup||43.8||41.25|
|Summer Squash||1 cup||36||36|
|Lima Beans||1 cup||216.2||156.04|
|Dried Peas||1 cup||231.3||127.4|
|Sunflower Seeds||0.25 cup||204.4||79.45|
|Winter Squash||1 cup||75.8||41|
|Collard Greens||1 cup||62.7||30.4|
|Beet Greens||1 cup||38.9||20.16|
|Kiwifruit||1 2 inches||42.1||17.25|
|Swiss Chard||1 cup||35||15.75|
|Mushrooms, Shiitake||0.50 cup||40.6||15.22|
|Mustard Greens||1 cup||36.4||12.6|
|Lemons and Limes||0.25 cup||13.4||12.2|