All About Folic Acid
- 02-20-2009, 12:27 PM
All About Folic Acid
Sources of Folic Acid
What is it?
Folic Acid is one of the water-soluble B vitamins. It is also known as folate. Numerous studies have clearly shown that this nutrient can benefit if taken regularly and as a result it has gathered a good deal of attention over the past few years.
Benefits of Folic Acid
Folic acid is considered to be a vital vitamin for women who are trying to conceive, and those who are pregnant. It helps the fetus to develop healthy, and prevents devastating conditions such as spina bifida and other neural tube defects.
However, the benefits of folic acid span much more than just during pregnancy. It is an important nutrient required for the good health of our heart. This nutrient helps lower homocysteine levels. While, high levels of homocysteine impairs blood vessels, which, in turn, makes arteries vulnerable to plaque formation. This can result in a greater risk of heart disease. Similar to the heart disease, depression is also normally accompanied with high levels of homocysteine. And hence, folic acid may also aid people suffering from depression.
Folic acid is also expected to increase the feeling of energy and also aid treat Alzheimer?s disease.
Over doses of folic acid may have some serious side effects. These potentially dangerous doses range from between 5,000 to 10,000 mcg. The RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) for this nutrient is 400 mcg per day. However, pregnant women and the elderly may need more.
Another potential issue about taking folic acid supplement is budding. Sometimes, taking this supplement may cover some serious deficiency symptoms of vitamin B12 (anemia). For example, according to the "New Encyclopedia Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements, & Herbs" by Nicola Reavley "Large amounts of folic acid can mask anemia caused by Vitamin B12 deficiency. Although this is rare, in some cases it may lead to permanent nerve damage." pg. 108
Therefore, it is recommended not to attempt taking more than 400 mcg of folic acid per day, if you are suffering from anemia.
Some health professionals argue that folic acid supplements have to be combined with vitamin B12 to make a more comprehensive formula, rather than as a stand alone supplement.
For instance, Reader's Digest book, "The Healing Power of Vitamins, Minerals, and Herbs" states: Buy a folic acid supplement that also contains vitamin B12 (too much of one can mask a deficiency in the other)." pg 293
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