Folic Acid is one of the B vitamins. It is very important in foetal development.
It is therefore very important that pregnant women be on some kind of folic acid supplementation. This will prevent neural tube defects.
Folic acid is one of the vitamins that is used as an enzyme in our metabolic pathways. It therefore acts as a catalyst to make sure that the metabolism is working correctly.
People who are not getting enough folic acid through such foods as leafy greens, fruits and vegetable, will find that their metabolism may slow down.
Folic acid is also used for cell division and cell growth. We need Folic acid for our overall health due to the fact that every day we have a lot of cell turn-over. Folic acid ensures that we have enough enzymes for proper cell division.
Folic acid helps your body to make red blood cells. It can help to prevent cancer, stroke and birth defects of the brain and spinal cord.
Is It Safe?
The over consumption of Folic acid can be dangerous to health. Too much Folic acid can lead to changes in the immune system, blockage of coronary artery stents, increased risk of colon cancer and asthma.
In the elderly, overconsumption of folic acid can lead to an increased risk of cognitive decline.
What causes all of these problems? Well, Folic acid is the cheap, man-made long shelf-life version of Vitamin B9. The actual vitamin in our food is folate. Folate and folic acid are not the same thing.
Folate is found in a wide variety of foods.
Rich sources include:
✓ Yeast Extract
✓ Brussel Sprouts
✓ Black beans
Since 1998, wheat products and beef products have been fortified with Folic acid.
The human body can convert synthetically made Folic acid into Folate. However, as we age, this conversion process from Folic acid into Folate becomes increasingly less efficient. That means that the older we get, the less advisable supplementation with folic acid is. There are also people who due to genetic factors, are not able to make the conversion at all.
Folic Acid and Pregnancy
In 1994, the March of Dimes foundation in the USA started a public education campaign encouraging women of child bearing age to take 400 micrograms of Folic acid per day as a supplement in addition to a healthy, well balanced diet.
Since then the USA has seen a massive decrease in the incidences of neural tube defects. Check with your health professional for the correct dosage for you.
Because Folic acid is unnatural, synthetic and chemically different to Folate and is not absorbed in the same pathways as folate, long term term Folic acid supplementation may be hazardous to human health.
If you’re thinking about getting pregnant, start taking Folic acid about a month before you become pregnant and continue your supplementation right throughout your first trimester of pregnancy. Please check with your health professional for the correct dosage and timing for you.
People who do not consume Folate rich foods along with those who have higher needs due to such things as pregnancy, conditions such as sickle cell disease and those who cannot properly absorb the compound, may become deficient.
Symptoms of deficiency are:
✓ General weakness
✓ Loss of appetite
✓ Weight loss
Check with your health professional for the correct dosage for you.