Folic acid, also known as vitamin B9 or vitamin M, vitamin Bc (or folacin), is essential to many of the functions that go on inside the human body. Your body uses it to create and repair DNA as well as many other biological functions. It is especially helpful in cell division which makes it extremely important for growth. This makes this vitamin an important nutrient for all expecting mothers.
Benefits – What Does it Do
The benefits of folic acid are no secret in the medical world. This essential nutrient is known for protecting people against cardiovascular disease, cancer and even some neurological disorders including depression. It’s also extremely important for pregnant mothers to get enough folacin, as it is crucial for your baby’s growth and helps protect against birth defects and complications.
High levels of homocysteine can make your blood clot more than normal which can increase your risk for a heart attack, which is one of the top killers among both men and women. Insufficient levels of folacin and other B vitamins in the bloodstream can cause increased levels of homocysteine.
Depression is also highly common in people with a folic acid deficiency. Doctors also believe that people with low levels of folacin in their diet are also harder to treat for depression as they do not respond to antidepressant medications as well as those who get enough folacin. The vitamin is believed to be an essential part of maintain a healthy mood and lifestyle.
Folacin is found in many foods such as leafy green vegetables, whole grains, and some cereals which have been fortified with folacin. It is so important that many countries have introduced programs to fortify their flour supplies with the additional folic acid people need to stay healthy and avoid complications during pregnancy.
Taking folacin in a dietary supplement is highly recommended by most doctors, especially during pregnancy or when taking certain medications which can block the absorption of folacin. It’s recommended to take between 180 and 200 micrograms of this vitamin daily to augment your diet. Making sure you always take your supplement will ensure that you’ve able to get all the benefits to help yourself stay healthy for years to come.
The benefits of Folic Acid for Women
Women finding it hard to get pregnant are asked to take the vitamin M and women who are planning to have children are asked to start on folic acid supplements prior to conceiving; say about 2-3 months before conceiving as that could reduce or prevent babies from being born with neural tube defects (NTD) such as spinal bifada and problem with fusion of the spinal cord in the skin. The vitamin can also prevent children from being born with a cleft palette. NTD was the main reason for FDAs (Food and Drug Administration) regulation to add folacin in food. This rule was passed in the year 1996.
According to proven studies and research on animals has proven that the vitamin B9 can also prevent certain kinds of cancer in women such as colon cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer and some other forms of cancer.
Older women are usually prone to folic acid deficiency due to their diets and use folacin supplements, and also due to a weakened absorption of the vitamin B9 in their small intestines. Hence older women must take the kind of supplements to fight of cancers and cardiovascular diseases.
Women who have hereditary problems like obesity, heart diseases, cancers etc. are usually recommended to take up to 2000 mg of folacin a day but only if the doctor recommended to do so. Furthermore, women need not worry about processed foods that are fortified by the vitamin as there has not been any evidence to show the health risks associated with folacin fortification. So it is safe to consume this type of fortified bread, pastas, cereals, etc.
Folacin fortification in foods has been a great success as it has prevented so many birth defects which have made Americans proud of their country as this has generated awareness amongst other countries as well.
More than a decade back there was a public education program started to educate women who were in their child bearing years to start taking 400 mg of folacin supplements along with a well-balanced healthy diet to prevent future defects in the children they plan to have.
Most people interchange folate with folic acid quite often and although both are water soluble vitamins, folate is the natural form seen in foods but folacin is the synthetic kind of this vitamin.
The U.S has witnessed a reduction of about 25-50 percent of NTD in babies and hence now focuses on increasing the percentage to 70 percent or more in the next couple of years.
Folic Acid Benefits for Men
As the famous saying suggests; the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach but what if he did not have a healthy heart then would he still be able to eat what his heart desired. It is a definite NO.
Humans have the genetic potential of living for minimum 110-125 years but today Americans on an average live up to the age of 75 only. The reason being Americans do not eat like they are supposed to be eating and that is by adding supplements to their diets as some nutrients are just not enough when the body produces them after consuming foods that contain them.
People live by this saying that humans live on the basis of what they eat but some believe that humans live on the basis of what their body absorbs. The latter makes sense because not everything that you eat is healthy for the body but what is in it that will make a difference. So the right amount of minerals and vitamins in foods will help you remain healthy.
This vitamin is not only needed and beneficial for women but has its own benefits on men too. Boys between the ages of 9 to 13 should consume 300 mg as the recommended folacin dosage every day. For boys and men above 13 must consume 400 mg as the standard dose of folacin. If the food consumed is less than 300-400 mg then men must take folacin in supplements or take multivitamin tablets to compensate for the less amount of the vitamin B9 needed for a day.
The benefits for men are that it reduces the blood levels of amino acid homocysteine which prevents strokes and other heart diseases. Doctors also believe that it can prevent Alzheimers, control depression, control the risk of cancer, and importantly when folacin is combined with zinc sulfate it increases the sperm count in men. Furthermore, it also controls hair loss and premature balding in men.