Sunday, March 11, 2012

Folic Acid Health Benefits: Dosage, Natural Food Sources and Folic Acid Deficiency

Folic acid belongs to the vitamin B group and has an important part to play in the maintenance of health and prevention of a host of disorders. You must ensure that you consume foods high in folic acid; there are several natural sources of folic acid; or boost the daily intake with a supplement.

What is Folic Acid?

Folic acid is a water soluble B vitamin; it was first extracted from spinach in 1940. The body does not store the vitamin; consequently, your daily intake of folic acid ought to be adequate.
Cooking or long storage can destroy half of the folic acids in foods; therefore, consuming plenty of raw, fresh vegetables or a folic acid supplement is the best way to get sufficient amounts of this nutrient.

What Does Folic Acid Do? Benefits of Folic Acid

Green Leafy Vegetables are
 loaded with Folic Acid
 The primary functions of folic acid are:
  • Synthesis of red blood cells
  • Building of muscle
  • Quick healing of wounds
  • Manufacture of chemicals of the brain and nervous system
  • Vital for DNA and RNA formation, and makes sure that the cells replicate normally.
  • Crucial for normal fetal development

 Folic Acid Health Benefits: Importance of Folic Acid Supplements

Here are a few important health benefits of folic acid supplements,

  • Folic acid is necessary to prevent birth defects
  • It protects the heart and diminishes the risk of developing cardio-vascular disorders. Folic acid plays a role in the synthesis and use of homocysteine. High levels of homocysteine tend to damage the lining of the blood vessels, making the vulnerable to plaque buildup, and consequently cardiac diseases.
  •  Folic acid is known to prevent cancer, particularly, colon, skin, rectal and cervical cancer.
  • It is also an important weapon against depression. High levels of homocysteine cause depression as well, thus, folic acid can help manage depressive cases effectively. The vitamin also improves the efficacy of the prescribed anti-depressants.
  • The nutrient also helps maintaining healthy bones
  • It is also of some help in the management of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Foods Rich in Folic Acid: Folic Acid Intake: Recommended Dosage
The RDI for folic acid is 200 mcg per day, however, the need increases during pregnancy and with age.
Good food sources are: spinach, lettuce, fenugreek, asparagus, and practically all green leafy vegetables, beans and whole grains.

Folic Acid Deficiency: Folic Acid Deficiency Symptoms
Some of the symptoms associated with the deficiency of folic acid include, 
Those who are taking medicines for cancer or epilepsy or suffer from a malabsorption disease have a severe folic acid deficiency.

Folic Acid Supplement

Folic Acid Crystals
Folic acid supplements are available as tablet and capsules. Supplements are advisable during pregnancy and for elderly people. Doctors advocate taking 400 mcg daily. However, do confer with your health care professional before embarking on the supplementation.

Folic Acid for Pregnancy

Folic acid has a pivotal role to play during pregnancy. This vitamin protects against fetal birth defects. Taking adequate amounts of folic acid during conception and during the first 3 months of pregnancy greatly decreases the risk of serious birth defects, such as spina bifida.
Incorporate plenty of folic acid rich foods in your daily diet. Your gynecologist will also recommence a supplement; 400 mcg during pregnancy.

Folic Acid Side Effects, Folic Acid Overdose

Very large doses of folic acid are not recommended. In fact, doses like 5000-10000 mcg may be dangerous, especially for people who have hormone related cancers, such as breast cancer or prostate cancer.
Folic acid overdose may also trigger seizures in people having epilepsy. Experts say the upper limit for folic acid is 1000 mcg per day.

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