Foods: nuts, broccoli, spinach, and other leafy green vegetables, fortified cereals, beans, liver, poultry, oranges
Nutritional & health benefits: cell growth & division, creation of amino acids, reducing birth defect risk, heart disease prevention, memory and cognitive enhancement in older adults.
Folic acid, which is also known as vitamin M and Folacin, is a form of vitamin B9 which has several key roles in the bodies processes, including the formation of genetic information and the formation of red blood cells.
Folic acid also has a number of health benefits, and is of particular importance in nutrition for pregnant women.
Folic acid should be one of the first supplements that pregnant women consider taking because it plays a significant role
in reducing the chances of birth defects.
A Canadian study found
folic acid reduced birth
defects by half.
Canada, one of the few countries to require the producers of pastas, cereals, and breads to add folic acid to their products did
a ten year study on what effect this requirement had on birth defects. It was found that birth defects, particularly neural
birth defects, were reduced by half because of folic acid.
There is also evidence to suggest that folic acid improves cognitive abilities and may even help prevent Alzheimer's disease. One study showed that adults between the ages of 50 and 70 who were given daily folic acid supplements for three years showed a marked improvement in both information processing speed
Furthermore, the test subjects who had been taking folic acid for the three years showed a much less drastic decline in their mental abilities when they were compared to the control groups who were given no folic acid supplements.
Like other B vitamins, folic acid has been shown to reduce the amount
of homocysteine, which is a naturally occurring amino acid, in the bloodstream. It is well established that homocysteine is a cause of a variety of heart related problems, and reduced rates of it correspond to a reduced chance of developing many heart problems, such as heart disease and stroke.
For those looking to supplement their folic acid intake, it can be found in a variety of foods, including liver, leafy vegetables,
and depending on the country, many common foods may be fortified with folic acid.
Learn more about naturally occurring folate and synthetic folic acid, with info on where it's found, how much you should be
taking, and recent research and other facts about this member of the B vitamin family...
More information about folic acid around the Web:
CDC Folic Acid- With facts on fetal development, recommended sources, an order form to write for free materials, FAQ, educational resources, online newsletter.
Folic Acid - An archive of research study and trial data describing folic acid's effects on cancer and a variety of other diseases and conditions.