Written by Slawomir (“Swavak”) Gromadzki, MPH
What you’re about to read here on Folic acid and its numerous health benefits may surprise you! Unfortunately, Folic acid (Vitamin B9) is usually only commonly known to help prevent birth defects. The truth is, however, it has multiple health benefits for both females and males regardless of age. In fact, Folic acid is one of the very few essential nutrients which supplementation is so insistently recommended by national health services all over the world. Folic acid, for instance is required in our body for the synthesis of glutathione (the “king” of all antioxidants) and serotonin, regarded as the most powerful good mood hormone. Folic acid deficiency can lead to hyperpigmentation of the skin, contributing to dark spots, also known as liver or age spots. Folic acid helps the body break down, create and use new proteins, DNA and blood cells. Especially formation of red blood cells (which carry oxygen around the body) is dependent on adequate levels of Folic acid. Its deficiency, therefore, is a frequent cause of anaemia and fatigue in both adults and children. Folic acid is particularly important for sustaining healthy nervous system and brain function including memory, mood, and focus. It helps maintain healthy heart function, blood pressure and normal blood glucose levels.
Prevents birth defects
Folic acid is very important during the preconception and pregnancy as it increases the chances of conceiving and is required for proper foetus development. Since Folic acid is an essential ingredient required for the synthesis of DNA its deficiency leads to birth defects. For this reason public health authorities recommend that, all women of childbearing age should consume 400 micrograms of Folic acid daily to prevent neural tube birth defects and other malformations in the developing babies.
Improves mood, memory & focus
Folic acid supplementation has a growing body of medical evidence to prove its ability to nourish the brain, and promote healthy nervous system function. A study of 579 elderly participants found that participants who were taking daily dose of 400 mcg of Folic acid cut their risk of memory loss in half. Folic acid can also positively influence our mood by being involved in the synthesis of serotonin.
Promotes heart health
Scientific research gave strong evidence that Folic acid (especially when paired with Vitamin B12) can effectively keep blood homocysteine levels under control. Without Folic acid, homocysteine levels are increased and cause blood to clot more easily, thus increasing risk of cardiovascular problems. A large study also showed that supplementation with Folic acid helps promote normal blood pressure.
Boosts metabolism, helps maintain normal body weight & energy levels
The most common complaint today is fatigue which is often caused by Folic acid deficiency. Fortunately, it can be easily reversed by supplementation of this vitamin. Folic acid helps us to feel better as it is involved in the production of oxygen-carrying red blood cells. It also helps us to control body weight and feel energised by converting carbohydrates into glucose, which is the preferred source of energy.