Folic acid is a synthetic form of folate, also known as vitamin B9. Folate is found naturally in certain foods and can only be obtained through the diet, therefore folic acid is often taken as a supplement, or fortified in foods.
Folate is essential for a number of bodily functions, including DNA synthesis and repair, and the development of red blood cells. It is particularly important during pregnancy to support the growth of a healthy fetus. Folate deficiency can have a number of negative health impacts including an increased risk for anemia, cancer, heart disease and birth defects.
Folate deficiency is fairly common, particularly in pregnant women and older adults. Read on to find out why you should take a folic acid supplement.
Folic acid is often taken during pregnancy to prevent neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida, which causes babies to be born without parts of their brain or skull. It may also help prevent preterm births, heart irregularities, and cleft palate – a condition that causes abnormalities in the structure of the face.
It is recommended that all women take a daily supplement containing at least 400mcg of folic acid, before conception and particularly during the first few months of pregnancy.
Low levels of folate have been linked to depression. It is thought that folic acid supplements can help improve depressive symptoms and increase the effectiveness of antidepressant medications.
Homocysteine is an amino acid found in the body that can increase the risk of heart disease. Folate plays a role in the metabolism of homocysteine, ensuring levels remain low. Research suggests that folic acid supplements can help prevent folate deficiency and reduce risk of heart disease, caused by elevated levels of homocysteine. Folic acid may also reduce high blood pressure and improve blood flow.
Folate plays an important role in proper brain function. Low levels are associated with mental impairments such as dementia, particularly in older adults. Studies show that folic acid may help improve brain function in elderly people with Alzheimer’s.
These are just a few of the major health benefits of folic acid supplements. It is also thought that folic acid may provide other health benefits, such as helping with diabetes, fertility, inflammation, kidney disease and medication side effects.
Prevent folate deficiency by taking our Folic Acid Micro Tablets. These contain the recommended 400µg of folic acid and help support better health and healthy pregnancies.