10 Important Health Benefits of Folic Acid

You probably know that folic acid (also known as folate) can help to promote the health of unborn babies, but you may not be aware of the many others powers of this B-complex vitamin. The average adult should have around 400 micrograms every day, and folic acid is available in supplement form as well as in many vegetables and pulses. Here are the ten most important reasons why you should add more folic acid to your diet.

1. It can keep you cognitively sharp as you age

Low levels of folic acid are linked to an increased likelihood of developing Parkinson’s disease and various forms of dementia. For example, one particularly compelling study revealed that participants with the lowest levels of folic acid were a staggering three times more likely to suffer from degenerative neurological problems. It is theorized that folate helps to preserve cognitive function by protecting you from a build-up of homocysteine, an amino acid plays a role in damaging brain cells that produce dopamine.

2. It promotes oral health

Folic acid is necessary for the production of certain mouth cells, so if you are not providing your body with enough folic acid then you may suffer from more dental health problems. For example, there is an established link between folic acid deficiency and an increased risk of gum inflammation and gum disease.

3. It can boost mood

Folic acid supplements are not an appropriate replacement for antidepressants if you are suffering from severe mood problems, but there is strong evidence that folic acid can improve mood, increase energy and reduce feelings of irritability. Research into this connection is ongoing, but scientists suspect that the explanation is connected to folic acid’s role in balancing neurotransmitters (as well as aiding in their production).

4. It may protect you against certain types of cancer

If you don’t have an adequately high folic acid intake, you are more likely to develop malignancies of the female reproductive system, digestive organs and lungs. Consequently, increasing your folic acid intake could afford you an increase in protection against all of these cancers.

5. It can help women transition after the menopause

Folate can help postmenopausal women experience fewer hot flashes, and may also improve general wellbeing.

6. It can keep your bones strong

People with osteoporosis are often found to have low levels of folate, so a greater intake of folic acid may help to protect your bones from breaks. Once again, homocysteine is thought to play a role in this connection, as people with high levels of homocysteine are 50% more likely to suffer from fractures. Studies show that increasing your folic acid intake reduces homocysteine levels and fracture risk.

7. It can help to treat fatigue

If you are always tired, try increasing your folic acid intake. Folic acid deficiency is a common cause of chronic fatigue, leaving people feeling exhausted even after a full eight hours of sleep.

8. It reduces the risk of anemia

Folic acid is necessary for red blood cell production, so a folic acid deficiency makes you more likely to have an inadequate amount of red blood cells. This condition is called anemia, and it means that your vital organs do not get enough oxygen (since oxygen is carried by red blood cells).

9. It aids in healthy development

Folic acid plays a crucial role in the development of an unborn baby’s nervous system, aiding in the proper growth of the brain and spinal cord. Women who are deficient in folic acid during pregnancy are more likely to deliver children who have exposed and poorly formed spines (i.e. spina bifida) and exposed brains (i.e. anencephaly).

10. It can protect you from heart disease

Finally, the connection between folic acid and a reduction in homocysteine means that a higher intake of folic acid can also afford you some protection from cardiovascular disease. Specifically, people with overly high levels of homocysteine are among the most likely to suffer from heart disease and heart attacks.

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