Are you taking enough folic acid? Also known as vitamin B9 or folate, this nutrient is necessary for general health. Most people associate it with pregnant mothers, but we all need to have enough. Folic acid has a crucial role in the body. Apart from helping to convert food into fuel, folic acid is necessary for many body functions. That is why it is important to have enough.
1. Adequate Growth:
In times of intense growth, folic acid is essential. It helps cells and tissues develop properly. Healthy childhood, adolescence and pregnancy depend on a sufficient amount of folic acid. In pregnant mothers, adequate folate helps the development of the brain and spinal cord. If a mother does not get enough, it is likely that the baby is at risk of neural tube defects. Some may die in the womb or shortly after birth.
2. DNA Production:
Along the same lines, folic acid feeds the synthesis of DNA and RNA. This ensures that cells can function daily. In fact, some scientists believe that folic acid can prevent DNA mutations.
3. Synthesis of Red Blood Cells:
The iron is not the only nutrient for healthy blood. To function properly, you need folate and vitamin B12. Folate also helps the body produce enough red blood cells. Without enough, the synthesis decreases, and the cells that are manufactured are often large and immature. This leads to a disease known as megaloblastic anemia.
4. Emotional Health:
Along with vitamin B12, folate is necessary for the nervous system. These nutrients support the metabolism, function and repair of the brain, so it is essential to feel good. In fact, compared to vitamin B12 deficiency, folate deficiency doubles the risk of depression. Even without deficiency, folate can improve mood. It will also cause irritability to appear.
5. Mental Health:
The brain benefits of folate do not stop at feelings. Cognitive function, memory and reasoning depend on folate. For older people, folate keeps dementia and Alzheimer’s disease at bay.
Food Sources of Folic Acid:
Like all B vitamins, folic acid is soluble in water. This means that the body does not store it. Usually, the deficiency is rare, but most of us barely have enough. That is why eating a diet rich in folate is vital. Fortunately, it is easy to find it in both natural and fortified foods.
- Dark green leaves like spinach, kale and mustard greens
- Green peas
- Brussels sprouts
- Fortified breakfast cereal
- Beef liver
- Enriched Spaghetti
- Wheat germ
Daily Recommendation for Folic Acid:
The amount of this acid that different groups of people should consume is as follows.
- Adults between 19 and 50 years: 400 mcg
- Adults 51 to 70 years: 400 mcg
- Adults over 71 years: 400 mcg
- Pregnant teenagers and women: 600 mcg
- Teenagers and women who breastfeed: 500 mcg
A Few Words of Caution:
Folic acid may be essential, but do not overdo it. Supplements and fortified foods should not be consumed in excess unless your doctor tells you to. For adults, the upper limit is 1,000 mcg per day. Eating a lot of folate can “mask” vitamin B12 deficiency. This condition has its own series of problems, including nerve damage. It could even increase the risk of colon cancer in some people.