Folic acid is a stable artificial forms of vitamin B9. The human body is capable of preparing this vital vitamin and it is then stored in the liver. Daily requirements of the human body utilize a part of this stored vitamin and surplus amount is released out of the body through excretion. Folic acid helps your body produce and maintain new cells and also helps prevent changes to DNA that may lead to cancer. Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate, a water-soluble vitamin also known as vitamin B9. It does not occur naturally in food but is frequently added to supplements and refined grain products such as bread and cereals. Since folic acid is different from natural folate. It must be converted into an active form before your body can use it.
As a medication, folic acid is used to treat folic acid deficiency and certain types of anemia (lack of red blood cells) caused by folic acid deficiency. It’s not found naturally in food but often added to processed foods and used in multivitamin-mineral supplements. This is a four-step process that requires several enzymes, including one called MTHFR. Some people have genetic mutations that make their MTHFR enzymes less effective at converting folic acid to 5-MTHF. Folate occurs naturally in food and folic acid is the synthetic form of this vitamin.
Foods That Contain Folic Acid
Since folic acid is synthetic it does not occur naturally in foods. Foods that are often fortified or enriched with folic acid include:
- Breakfast cereals
- White pasta
- White rice
- Meat (such as beef liver and kidney)
- Orange juice
- Tomato juice
- Protein bars
Taking folic acid seems to reduce nausea and vomiting, which are possible side effects of methotrexate treatment.
The Health Benefits of Folic Acid
The health benefits of vitamin B9, also known as folic acid, include prevention of heart disorders, stroke, cancer and birth defects during pregnancy. It also helps in building muscles, cell enhancement, hemoglobin formation and provides relief from mental and emotional disorders.
- Improves Heart health:
A fact sheet by the NIH suggests that folic acid is a significant tool in improving the working of the human heart. It controls the cholesterol levels in the heart thus ensuring that our cardiovascular system is saved from various disorders.
- Prevents Stroke:
Folic acid helps in controlling the amount of homocysteine in the body and reduces the chances of a stroke.
- Blood Pressure:
Taking folic acid with blood pressure medication does not seem to lower blood pressure more than taking only blood pressure medicine.
4. Prevention of Neural Tube Defects:
Low folate levels during the early weeks of pregnancy have been linked to neural tube defects in infants, such as malformations of the brain, spine and/or spinal cord. It’s recommended that all women of reproductive age take at least 400 mcg of supplemental folate per day.
Dietary foliate, when consumed regularly, has the ability to reduce breast cancer risk in women who consume a high level of alcohol. Also, when folic acid is not converted into active vitamin B9 or metabolized, it is a threat as it can fuel the growth of pre-existing cancers. Some researchers believe that low folate levels can cause this process to increasing your risk of abnormal cell growth and cancer. Low folate levels also contribute to the formation of unstable and easily breakable DNA which may increase cancer risk.
- Prevent Birth defects:
The birth defects caused by its deficiency include neural tube defects. Thus, vitamin B9 effectively improves the chances of giving birth to a healthy, happy child.
Limited research shows that taking folic acid along with antidepressants seems to improve symptoms in people with depression.
- Reduce homocysteine levels:
While studies have found that daily folic acid supplements can reduce homocysteine levels by up to 25%, this reduction has not corresponded with lower rates of heart disease. Without enough folate, this conversion slows down and homocysteine levels rise. About 85% of people with serious kidney disease have high levels of homocysteine.
- Build Muscles:
Folic acid is considered to be a muscle building component since it helps in the growth and maintenance of muscle tissues.
- Reduce the Risk of Alzheimer:
Folic acids turn out to be very good for your brain since it will prevent you from brain diseases associated with Alzheimer. Many researchers have found that homocysteine once again play a vital role on why you can suffer from the diseases associated with your brain like dementia and Alzheimer.
- Effective for Vision problems:
Research shows that taking folic acid with other vitamins including vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 reduces the risk of developing age-related vision loss.
- Improves Hemoglobin levels:
Folic acid is responsible for improving the level of hemoglobin in the human body. Hemoglobin is an essential component that helps in the transfer of oxygen to cells and organ systems that need it to function properly.
- Improve Memory:
Research shows that taking folic acid with or without other B vitamins may improve memory and thinking skills in older people with larger than normal declines in these skills.
- Improves Mental Health:
For instance, it is useful in relieving anxiety and depression, which are two of the most common mental health problems suffered by people in the modern world.
- Reduce Vitiligo Problems:
A skin disorder that causes white patches to develop on the skin (vitiligo) Taking folic acid by mouth seems to improve symptoms of vitiligo.
- Improves male fertility:
Men who are having a low level of folic acid in the body will be more susceptible to have an incorrect chromosomal structure in their sperm. So, if you want to have a baby immediately, don’t be hesitating to consume foods that contain high amounts of folic acid. So, many studies have already explored and found out that folic acid played an important role in spermatogenesis that linked with the sperm function.
- Beneficial for Pregnant women:
The study has also shown that taking sufficient amounts of folic acids will protect the mother from pregnancy complications. A recent report says that the women who took folic acids supplements during the second trimester had reduced risk of the pregnancy disorder like pre-eclampsia.
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