Folic acid is beneficial for promoting good health ad is available in several supplements as well as foods although it does not naturally occur in foods.
Folic acid happens to be the synthetic form of folate, a water-soluble vitamin also known as vitamin B9.
It does not, of course, occur naturally in food but is rather frequently added to supplements and refined grain products, such as bread and cereals.
Since folic acid is different from natural folate, it must be converted into an active form before your body can use it. Pregnancy precautions are indeed taken when it comes to folic acid intake.
What Is Folic Acid?
Folic acid is a stable, artificial form of vitamin B9.
It is not found naturally in food but often added to processed foods and used in multivitamin-mineral supplements.
However, folic acid needs to be converted into active vitamin B9, known as 5-MTHF, before the body can make use of it. Pregnancy precautions are kept in mind even while consuming folic acid.
Some people have genetic mutations that make their MTHFR enzymes that are less effective at converting folic acid to 5-MTHF.
This can indeed lead to a build-up of folic acid in the blood, which has been rather linked to negative health outcomes in some people, including poor immunity, reduced brain function and increased growth of pre-existing cancers.
No doubt more research is required and people with MTHFR mutations may feel that they need to avoid consuming large amounts of folic acid and choose supplements that contain active 5-MTHF instead.
A folic acid is a synthetic form of vitamin B9 that is added to some foods and supplements. It must be converted to an active form prior to one’s body can use it, but some genetic mutations can slow this process.
How Much Folic Acid Do You Need Each Day?
Since folic acid is a synthetic form of vitamin B9, it is not essential in one’s diet.
Instead, you can consume folate – the natural form of B9 – through foods.
However, research does suggest that most people do not eat enough naturally folate-rich foods to meet their needs.
People living in the US and Canada, do these days add folic acid to refined grain products, such as white flour, bread, and cereals.
Folic acid consumption has been on the increase and this has reduced the rate of folate deficiency.
Measuring intake this way helps account for the fact that folic acid is nearly twice as absorbable as natural folate from foods.
Benefits of Vitamin B9
There are several benefits of vitamin B which folic acid contains.
1. Prevention of Neural Tube Defects
Low folate levels during the early weeks of pregnancy have been linked to neural tube defects in infants, such as malformations of the brain, spine and/or spinal cord.
In contrast, children of women who have a supplement of folate prior to and throughout pregnancy are born with significantly lower rates of these defects.
Several prenatal supplements contain folic acid.
2. Cancer Prevention
High intakes of folate can provide protection against certain cancers, including those of the breast, gut, lung, and pancreas.
Low folate levels lead to the formation of unstable and easily breakable DNA which may increase the risk of cancer.
However, in people with pre-existing cancers or tumors, there is some evidence that indicates that high folate intakes may promote tumor growth.
3.Reduced Homocysteine Levels
Adequate folate helps reduce levels of homocysteine, an inflammatory molecule linked to the development of heart disease. Folate does help lower homocysteine levels as it is required in the process of converting homocysteine into another molecule referred to as methionine.
Adequate vitamin B9 intake helps aid positive health outcomes, such as a reduced risk of neural tube birth defects, cancer prevention, and lower homocysteine levels.
Pregnancy precautions are taken into consideration even while consuming folic acid.