Folic Acid: What are folic acid benefits?
Folic acid, also known as folate or folacin, is a nutrient you want to get enough of. Why?
It is an essential B vitamin needed for the following:
Folic acid deficiency has been linked as well to depression, low birth weight, cardiovascular disease, macular degeneration, Alzheimer’s and poor cognitive function. It’s important that you get your folic acid benefits, whether through food or supplements.
Folic Acid Benefits may come under many names - Folic acid is also known as folate, folacin, vitamin M, vitamin B 9 vitamin B c, pteroyl-L-glutamic acid, or pteroyl-L-glutamate.
Folic Acid: Folate-Deficiency Anemia
Lack of folic acid in diet can lead to a type of anemia called folate-deficiency anemia, characterized by abnormally large red blood cells.
Red blood cells are important for transporting oxygen to the various cells in the body.
Symptoms of folate-deficiency anemia include
Folic Acid: Folic acid fortification
Since 1998, the US government followed by many other countries like Canada, Costa Rica, Chile and South Africa, have required that food manufacturers add folic acid to grain products including enriched flours, cereals, cornmeal, pasta and rice. The program was more successful than anticipated, increasing the folic acid intake by a whopping 190 mcg/day, as opposed to the estimated 100 mcg/day.
Folic Acid Absorption - Food versus supplements -Remember, when calculating your daily intake of folic acid that only 50 % of folic acid from food is absorbed, compared to 60% from fortified food and 100% from folic acid supplements taken without food.
Fortification reduced significantly the number of children born with neural tube defects. Nevertheless, some people are still at risk for folic acid deficiency.
Despite government fortification, certain groups remain at risk for not getting folic acid benefits including the following:
Folic Acid: How much folic acid do you need?
The US government recommends the following daily intakes for folic acid. The levels are given in dietary folate equivalents ( DFE’s) – which recognizes that folic acid supplements taken without food are absorbed almost 2 times better than folic acid in food including fortified foods.
Remember this when trying to calculate your daily folic acid intake.
US Dietary Folic Acid Recommend Daily Intakes
While 400 mcg is the non-pregnant non-lactating adult recommended intake, some experts suggest 450 mcg per day is a more optimal intake to maximize your folic acid benefits.
Folic Acid Food Stars
Folic Acid: When folic acids foods are not enough, folic acid supplements can do the trick
Folic acid supplements are widely available and can be a great way of getting your folic acid benefits. Most multi-vitamins including children’s multi-vites and multi-vitamins for women contain substantial amounts. Check the labels.
Studies suggest that 100% of folic acid in supplements is absorbed. When taken with food, only 85% of the folic acid is absorbed.
Folic Acid: How much is too much?
Like with most vitamins and minerals, too much folic acid is not good.
When it comes to folic acid, the US government’s upper intake level for adults 19 years and above is 1,000 mcg per day.
How to lower Homocysteine with Folic Acid and other B Vitamins?–High homocysteine is associated with higher risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, high blood pressure and dementia, among other conditions. Supplementing Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12 and folate can decrease homocysteine levels and your risk for several serious conditions.
Folic Acid: Nixing folic acid benefits by consuming too much
Most of the problems related to excess folic acid, stem from supplementation. Because of the lower bioavailability of folic acid in food, it’s almost impossible to get too much food, unless you are mainlining fortified food sources.
The major conduit for excess folic acid is too much via supplements.
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