Folic acid is the ultimate nutrition supplement. It is a synthetic alternative to Folate. Folate is commonly known as vitamin B9. Folate is made naturally in the body, and it is found in spinach, kale, and various other green-leafed vegetables.
Folic acid is the synthetic form of Folate. Folate and folic acid are the same, but they differ in their source of origin. While Folate exists naturally, folic acid is made synthetically. It is found in many nutrition supplements. Folic acid is also important for prenatal health.
Our body requires a certain amount of Folate in blood so that it can perform the following functions:
- Forms new red blood cell to combat anaemia
- Helps in tissue growth and cell function
- Also has some hand in DNA manufacturing. DNA carries the genetic information from parents to children
- It works with other vitamins in the creation of new protein.
Folic acid deficiency causes many problems in the human body. Following are the diseases and problems caused by the deficiency:
- Pernicious Anemia
- Mouth Ulcers
- Swollen Tongue
- Grey hair
Normally the body makes enough folates, but some cases cause deficiency and then diseases.
- Hemolytic Anemia
- Drugs that increase the absorption of Folate: methotrexate & sulfasalazine
- Celiac disease or any disease that affects folate absorption.
- Absent and low acid in the stomach
Folate Deficiency in Pregnancy
During pregnancy, your body is making double the amount of blood. More blood is needed for the growth of the baby. It is quite common to develop anaemia during pregnancy. A gynaecologist recommends taking folic acid during pregnancy. Severe anaemia can also lead to preterm delivery or other serious complications. During pregnancy, women need extra Folate and should invest in folic acid supplements.
Neural Tube Defects
Women should also take folic acid before and during pregnancy. It saves them from neural tube irregularities. Taking 400mg of folic acid during pregnancy can save the woman and the baby from many diseases and deformities such as preterm labour, cleft palate, and heart diseases.
Folic acid does not help in the treatment of depression. It is seen that taking folic acid with other medicines makes them more effective. Folic acid improves the response of the body to anti-depressants.
Folic Acid in Autism
Many studies have indicated that folic acid also improves autism. Women who take folic acid supplements during pregnancy have healthy babies. Research conducted on 288 women from 1999 to 2008 showed that 260 women took folic acid supplements during pregnancy. Among the other 68 women that did not take folic acid, 32% of children showed autism traits at 18 months old, and 26% showed autism at 36 months old. Women who did not take folic acid were more at risk for autism traits in their babies.
Rheumatoid Arthritis & Folic Acid
Methotrexate is an anti-rheumatoid drug that is used in the treatment of arthritis. It shows promising results in the patients. But using this drug may cause a folic acid deficiency in the body. Methotrexate interferes with folic acid absorption in the body. Many physicians and specialists recommend the use of folic acid with the use of methotrexate. Folate might be blocked by methotrexate use, but it does not block the absorption of synthetic folic acid.
Folic Acid & Brain Health
Folic acid is also important for brain health. A low brain function correlates to a low amount of Folate in the blood. This may lead to the early onset of dementia. A study was done on 112 people who were taking donepezil. It was observed that people who took donepezil alone showed less progress than those who took donepezil with folic acid. They took 1250 mcg of folic acid for six months.
Folic acid also helps prevent heart-related complications. The amino acid homocysteine can cause heart diseases. Folate metabolizes homocysteine so that it cannot cause any heart complications. Folic acid also improves blood flow. That improves the overall cardiovascular functions.
Folic Acid & Ulcers
Folic acid also helps in reducing mouth and peptic ulcers. Folate deficiency is a cause of ulcer formation in the mouth. Taking the recommended dose of folic acid help preventing mouth ulcers. A study showed that folic acid prevented ulcers by 32%. There are many factors involved in forming an ulcer, but folic acid deficiency is the most common factor.
Folic Acid & Hair Growth
Folic acid has been found to increase hair growth. Research in 2017 showed that people who had premature greying also had a folic acid deficiency. The recommended dose of folic acid is 400mcg. Further research is still being done to prove the importance of folic acid in hair growth.
Other Benefits of Folic Acid
There are many other benefits of folic acid. Folic acid helps in infertility. Women who are looking to conceive should start taking folic acid. Folate helps in egg implantation and maturation. This helps in infertility. Folic acid is also shown to reduce inflammation. That is why it is important for women who are suffering from polycystic ovarian syndrome. Folic acid also helps in removing or reducing complications related to diabetes, such as neuropathy. Impaired kidneys may cause an increase in homocysteine. Folic acid helps in that complication.
Dose of Folic Acid
All women should take folic acid. The recommended dose of folic acid is 400mcg. Women should start taking folic acid at childbearing age. This not only helps for fertility but also has shown good benefits for hair growth. During pregnancy, 600 to 800 mcg is recommended. Taking enough folic acid also helps to prevent neural tube defects.
Folic acid does the nutrition job well enough. Every gender should take folic acid, but women should take folic acid. It is really necessary for the growth of the child and the mother. Folic acid helps to prevent many diseases and complications. During pregnancy, consult with your gynaecologist and add folic acid to your diet.