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Folic Acid: Why You Need It + How To Get Enough

Nathalie Chantal de Ahna
Written by Nathalie Chantal de Ahna

One of the first things couples come across when doing pregnancy nutrient research is folic acid, which is known to facilitate conception, improve fetus development, and prevent neural tube defects.

Folic acid, also called vitamin B9 or folate:

  • Is an incredibly efficient micronutrient to generally boost your health and looks
  • Lack of folate is one of the most widespread micronutrient deficiencies worldwide

As a nutritionist, I'd like to share with you eight fantastic benefits of adding more folic acid to your life:

1. Higher energy levels

As one of the eight B-vitamins, folate helps the body convert the food we eat into glucose, which provide us with energy. In combination with vitamin B12, folic acid has been shown to significantly boost energy levels in people suffering from fibromyalgia.

2. A better mood

Just like folic and vitamin B12 can boost energy levels, this powerful micronutrient combination can contribute to and/or improve recurring mood disorders.

Folic acid supplementation elevates serotonin levels in the brain, which might explain its mild antidepressant effect.

3. A healthier heart

About 50% of all deaths are due to cardiovascular disease and its "side effects". One risk factor of stroke is elevated body concentrations of homocysteine, which damages the artery and vessel wall.

Folate plays a vital role in reducing homocysteine levels and, hence, could protect your heart.

4. Stronger bones

Too much homocysteine in the body doesn't only affect your heart health, it also increases your bone fracture risk and impacts bone quality by interfering with collagen formation.

5. Cancer prevention

A study with almost 25,000 women found that low dietary intake of folate may increase the risk of breast cancer, especially for women who drink alcohol on a regular basis.

It's also been shown to inhibit colon cancer growth, and might play a significant role in preventing other cancers, too.

6. Prevention from Alzheimer's disease and dementia

Folate deficiency seems to be an important factor in the onset and progression of neuropsychiatric diseases such as Alzheimer's or dementia.

Further research needs to be conducted, but professionals consider this knowledge "promising".

7. Thicker hair

All B vitamins are known to boost hair and skin health, so it's no surprise that folate could actually prevent serious hair loss.

8. Acne-free skin

Nutritional intervention is recommended to people suffering from adult acne, whose serum folate levels are often way too low.

What else is there to know?

Folate is a water-soluble vitamin, which means it has to be replenished regularly, preferably several times daily.

It's also extremely sensitive to heat and light, so you should consume folate-rich foods as fresh and "gently prepared" as possible. (Think steaming your veggies instead of roasting them.)

Foods rich in folate are:

  • Brewer's yeast
  • Black eye peas
  • Wheat germ
  • Beef
  • Asparagus
  • Lentils
  • Walnuts
  • Fresh spinach
  • Kale
  • Peanuts
  • Broccoli
  • Barley
  • Split peas
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Almonds
  • Oatmeal
  • Cabbage

If you want to supplement with folic acid in higher dosages to treat a specific issue, make sure to talk to a health practitioner first.

To cover general needs, I recommend using a high-quality multivitamin which also includes other micronutrients to assure ideal absorption.

Would you like to learn more about other micronutrients?

Leave me a comment below!

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