Folic acid, or vitamin B9, is a necessary supplement in the diet with great health benefits. This vitamin is necessary for every individual, for normal health and life.
Folic acid is essential for humans, playing a role in many processes in our bodies. The body can not produce it on its own, and it can not be stored in the body for a long time.
Therefore, it is necessary to enter the required amount through the diet, and in case of increased need for folic acid and through the use of supplements.
Folate is the form of vitamin B9 found in food, and folic acid is the form of vitamin B9 in vitamin supplements.
Why should we take folic acid?
Folic acid belongs to the group of B vitamins and is known as vitamin B9. It is important for many important processes in the body such as the production of red blood cells or the production of DNA and RNA.
Consuming folic acid gives energy to our body and the whole organism.
Folic acid also helps to better absorb vitamin B12, during stress and depression, and in the fight against many heart diseases, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
Folic acid is present in all dark green vegetables. Pregnant women and women planning to become pregnant should be well informed about the important role of folic acid in fetal development.
Folic acid is needed for the formation of the placenta and the proper development of the fetus.
It is responsible for the formation of the baby’s brain and spine, even in the first months of pregnancy.
Folic acid also reduces the likelihood of defects in the newborn’s brain or spine by 70-80%. Therefore, pregnant women should take more folic acid.
Many pregnancies today are unplanned and women often find out about them in the second month of pregnancy, so they do not consume enough folic acid.
To prevent this from happening, experts recommend that every woman of childbearing age pay attention to the amount of folic acid ingested.
Foods rich in folic acid for health benefits
The human body constantly needs folic acid, but as we have already said, it can not just produce it.
Folic acid also can not be stored in the body for a long time. That is why we need to take it daily through our diet.
Folic acid is most common in the following foods:
spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, liver, beef and lamb, all dark green vegetables, carrots, melons, avocados, and bread.
While consuming foods rich in folic acid with health benefits, it is nice to drink orange juice or some other juice rich in vitamin C.
The reason for this is the fact that vitamin C helps the body better absorb folic acid.
We recommend 7 foods that you should include in your diet to get the required daily dose of folic acid.
Buckwheat source of folic acid
This is a food that contains the most folic acid in its composition.
Half a cup of boiled buckwheat containing 180 micrograms of folic acid is enough, which is almost 50% of daily needs.
Buckwheat is also rich in vitamin B6, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, and zinc.
On the weekly diet menu, buckwheat should always be on the menu at least twice.
For the proper growth of the fetus and the proper development of the nervous system, pregnant women should consume spinach.
This is due to the fact that it contains folic acid, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, and zinc.
Orange is also a great fruit that contains 55 micrograms of folic acid.
Also freshly squeezed orange juice 74 micrograms of folic acid in a glass.
A suggestion for a good and healthy lunch that is rich in folic acid at the same time is chicken with orange and spinach.
Red beans and broccoli
It is easily added to various dishes and contains 11 micrograms of folic acid in half a cup of cooked beans.
One cup of broccoli provides you with a daily intake of 104 micrograms of folic acid, ie ¼ of the required daily intake.
Apart from folic acid, this healthy vegetable is also rich in iron, vitamin C, fiber, beta carotene, and calcium.
Eggs are a great choice for folic acid intake
Eggs are very useful because they contain protein, iron, folic acid, and omega-3 fatty acids at the same time.
Protein and its composition are considered an ideal source of protein because it contains all the essential amino acids in perfect proportions.
Yolk, on the other hand, contains the key ingredients needed to develop a baby’s brain.
Half a cup of pumpkin seeds meets the daily requirement of amino acids.
Pumpkin seeds are a great source of vitamins and minerals, and they contain a lot of zinc and iron up to three times more than meat.
Benefits of folic acid for our health
Folic acid against heart disease
Folic acid health benefits, along with vitamin B12, helps the heart in many ways. They help reduce blood clotting.
Blood clots lead to cardiovascular disease. Folic acid can protect the heart and blood vessels.
There is a link between elevated homocysteine levels and the chances of heart attack and stroke.
For now, some experts believe that lowering homocysteine can also reduce the chances of developing heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
Folic acid helps fight depression
The practice has shown that some people are depressed due to folic acid deficiency, and the more folic acid they lack then the depression is more pronounced.
Low levels of folic acid are associated with a weak response to antidepressants.
Folic acid is used to treat depression and to improve and regulate mood. Adequate levels of folic acid are essential for the proper functioning of the brain.
Cancer protection with folic acid
Folic acid can prevent cancer cells from multiplying. Folic acid, according to some studies, can protect against cancer of the colon, breast, cervix, pancreas, and stomach.
The link and role of folic acid in a possible anticancer effect is not well established.
However, folic acid is essential for the development of any cell, according to some experts, it can contribute to the growth of cancer, which otherwise the immune system might destroy.
Opinions are divided, but until it is known, it is best for people who have had cancer not to take this acid on their own.
Folic acid for pregnancy
Folic acid is very useful during the period before and during pregnancy.
It is used to prevent any birth defects, improve fetal development, and increase the chances of conception.
Women who want to get pregnant are recommended a daily dose of supplements for adequate folic acid intake.
Pregnant women should start taking folic acid supplements during pregnancy.
How much folic acid during pregnancy?
The recommended dose of folic acid during pregnancy is as follows:
- 400 mcg per day is recommended for women trying to conceive.
- 400 mcg per day is recommended during the first three months of pregnancy.
- 600 mcg per day is recommended from the fourth month to the ninth month of pregnancy.
- 500 mcg per day is recommended during the breastfeeding period
However, although folic acid supplements should be taken, the dose is recommended by your doctor.
Folic acid can reduce the presence of fat in the blood.
This can help with obesity and thus automatically prevent type 2 diabetes.
Folic acid for acne-free skin
Folic acid, in combination with other important antioxidants, helps eliminate toxins from the body, which can reduce the appearance of acne on the face.
But we should also note that an overdose of folic acid can lead to more acne and dry skin.
The right dose of folic acid can give your skin a better glow and a much healthier look.
Folic acid helps improve skin firmness. It also helps reduce the signs of skin aging.
Folic acid plays an extremely important role in hair growth. Folic acid regenerates cells that help improve hair growth.
Possible folic acid deficiency can lead to premature hair loss and hair loss.
Alzheimer’s disease and folic acid
Adequate amounts of folic acid can help patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Folic acid also helps prevent memory loss due to aging.
Folic acid health benefits for anemia
Anemia is a very common problem that affects everyone, from children to the elderly.
Women are particularly prone to becoming anemic because they tend to restrict their diet due to diet and certain health problems.
If you feel tired all the time and look pale and feel dizzy often, you should check for anemia.
Therefore, iron and folic acid not only prevent it, but they also help to cure anemia. As you already know, iron is needed for the formation of red blood cells.
Similarly, folic acid also helps with vitamin B12 formation in red blood cells. Be sure to take your required daily intake of iron and folic acid to get enough blood pumping through your veins.
Menstruation is easier with normal folic acid levels
Some women lose a lot of blood during the days when they are menstruating.
If you have difficulty during these periods and feel more exhausted, then the cause may be a lack of iron and folic acid.
Eating foods rich in iron and folic acid will help improve the condition. You can consult your doctor if you need to take folic acid supplements.
When can folic acid deficiency occur?
A mild deficiency of folic acid in our body is very common. Deficiency occurs in alcoholism, irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, and the use of certain medications.
In the absence of folic acid, side effects such as stunted growth, gingivitis, loss of appetite, shortness of breath, diarrhea, irritability, forgetfulness, and mental retardation can occur.
Folic acid deficiency is associated with osteoporosis.
People with high homocysteine and low folic acid levels have been shown to have an increased chance of heart disease, dementia and osteoporosis, and bone fractures.
Who needs increased folic acid?
Increased amounts of folic acid are most often needed for women planning to become pregnant, pregnant women, children in the period of growth and development.
Larger amounts of folic acid are recommended for pregnant women.
Low levels of folic acid in pregnancy are associated with low birth weight and an increased risk of damage to the neural tube (spina bifida) and brain.
The neural tube is a formation that then forms the brain and spinal cord.
In order to prevent folic acid deficiency, pregnant women are advised to use folic acid during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
However, it would be best for a woman’s body to have enough folic acid before pregnancy.
The reason is that vital organs are formed in the first weeks of pregnancy (even before a woman knows she is pregnant, and before making a recommendation she should use folic acid).
Women who want to get pregnant in case of an improper diet, it is recommended to use 400 mcg of folic acid per day.
Multivitamins for pregnant women and women planning a pregnancy usually contain 400 mg of these acids.
It seems that it can prevent miscarriage, although no clear link has been established for this claim so far.
Is it possible to ingest too much folic acid?
Folic acid is soluble in water and is therefore excreted in the urine. Taking high doses of folic acid over a long period of time can mask a vitamin B12 deficiency, leading to nerve cell damage.
Symptoms of folic acid deficiency
With a small amount of folic acid in the body, we may find ourselves in a situation where some symptoms appear.
Some of the symptoms that can occur with folic acid deficiency are:
- loss of appetite;
- muscle weakness.
Folic acid deficiency is more common in people with health problems. These problems can be in the digestive system, kidneys, liver, or people who often consume a lot of alcohol.
Recommended daily doses of folic acid for health benefits?
The daily dose of folic acid in our body normally depends on age, and it is the following:
- Babies (0-6 months) – 65μg
- Babies (6-12 months) – 80μg
- Children (1-3 years) – 150μg
- Children (4-8 years) – 200μg
- Kids (9-13 years) – 300μg
- Adults (14 years and older) – 400μg
- Pregnant women – 600μg
- Breastfeeding mothers – 500μg
Dietary overdose with folic acid is almost impossible because the body absorbs it very slowly.
However, if you take folic acid as a supplement in the form of tablets, an overdose can occur.
Therefore, if you decide to take folic acid additionally, you must first consult a doctor.
The maximum amount of folic acid that is allowed and at the same time safe to ingest is 1000μg (for men and women older than 19 years).