What is Folic Acid?
Folic acid, a member of the Vitamin B family, has been shown to prevent birth defects; it is especially effective as a guard against infant spina bifida, and is an essential nutrient for expectant mothers. It is also required for the development of red blood cells and proper metabolic function.
There are indications that folic acid may be effective in alleviating an amazingly wide variety of conditions: depression, epilepsy, schizophrenia, arthrosclerosis, gingivitis, gout, diarrhea, and even heart disease and cancer.
The Positives of Folic Acid Use:
One of the best benefits of Folic Acid is for women who are trying to fall pregnant, and those who are pregnant. Folic Acid helps with the healthy development of the fetus, and can help to prevent conditions such as spina bifida and other neural tube defects that are known as devastating conditions.
Women who are either pregnant, or trying to conceive, will benefit immensely by taking Folic Acid. Contributing to the healthy fetal development, Folic Acid is one of the best safeguards against neural and spinal birth defects, including the catastrophic spina bifida.
But the benefits of Folic Acid extend well beyond pregnancy. By lowering homocysteine blood levels, Folic Acid maintains heart health. Elevated homocysteine will accelerate the development of arterial plaque, and increase the risk of heart disease.
Because increased homocysteine levels have also been linked to depression, depression sufferers may also benefit from taking Folic Acid.
Use of Folic Acid has also been shown to increase energy levels, and Folic Acid may also be one of the nutrients capable of counteracting Alzheimer’s disease.
What to Avoid When Using Folic Acid?
Folic acid can have some serious side effects if too much is taken every day.
Although elderly women and those who are either pregnant, or intending to become so, will benefit from increased intake of Folic acid, the Recommended Daily Allowance for others has been established as 400 mcg per day. Dosages in the range of 5000-1000mcg have been shown to be harmful.
And adding Folic Acid as a dietary supplement can cause anemia, resulting from a Vitamin B12 deficiency. Nicola Reavley, in an excerpt form p. 108 of the nutritional encyclopedia “New Encyclopedia Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements, & Herbs”, states:
“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."
She further recommends that those who already suffer from anemia, unless their physician has determined that it is not pernicious anemia, restrict their intake of Folic Acid to the Recommended Daily Allowance.
Some people suggest that Folic Acid should not be consumed as a stand alone supplement and taken with vitamin B12 or as part of a more comprehensive formula where not only b12 are used, but other important vitamins, minerals, herbs, and amino acids.
There are those who believe Folic Acid, in order to avoid imbalances, needs to be consumed with either a Vitamin B12 supplement, or a multi-nutrient formula which includes other essential vitamins, minerals, herbal extracts, and amino acids in addition to B12.
For example, the book, “The Healing Power of Vitamins, Mineral, and Herbs’, published by Reader’s Digest, states, on p. 293, “Buy a folic acid supplement that also contains vitamin B12 (too much of one can mask a deficiency in the other)."
Because the previously mentioned side effects of Folic Acid are rare, and usually result from overdosing, it’s good to remember that a deficiency in Folic Acid intake can result in anemia. If you decide to begin using it, and notice a change in your health, notify your doctor immediately. If necessary, visit an emergency room
Folic Acid and Allergic Reactions:
Folic Acid consumption can result in severe allergic reactions; these can appear in the form of labored breathing, rashes and itching, dizziness and inflammation. If you experience any of these, get medical help immediately.
If you are already pregnant, or are nursing, and want to begin taking Folic Acid, talk to your physician first.
And, as reported by recent news sources, women trying to become pregnant via in vitro fertilization will be interested to know that, taken after a fertility treatment, folic acid may increase the chances of twins.
Other methods of fertilization have also been shown to raise the odds of multiple births, but until a short time ago, Folic Acid was not known to have this effect.
Our Take on Folic Acid:
Because the nutritional value of Folic Acid found in food is destroyed by cooking or storage, we believe it should be consumed as a supplement. And because our bodies cannot store Folic Acid as a reserve, we recommend that it be taken daily.
Numerous experts agree that supplements added to the Folic Acid provide in one’s diet are the best guarantees of getting its benefits, especially for those who suffer from Folic Acid deficiency.
If you would prefer to get your Folic Acid from food, increase your consumption of whole grains, green vegetables, and beans.
And, many refined foods have been fortified with Folic Acid, but they are far from the ideal source.
Our recommendation on the best way to benefit from folic acid is through supplements.
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