Folic Acid Function in Human Body

Vitamin B9, likewise called folate or folic acid, is among 8 B vitamins. All B vitamins assist the body convert food (carbs) into fuel (glucose), which is used to produce energy. These B vitamins, often referred to as B-complex vitamins, also help the body use fats and protein. B-complex vitamins are needed for a healthy liver, and healthy skin, hair, and eyes. They likewise help the nervous system function correctly. Folic acid is the artificial kind of B9, discovered in supplements and fortified foods, while folate occurs naturally in foods.

Folic Acid Function in Human Body

All the B vitamins are water-soluble, indicating the body does not keep them.

Folic acid is essential for correct brain function and plays a crucial function in psychological and psychological health. It helps in the production of DNA and RNA, the body’s hereditary material, and is especially essential when cells and tissues are growing rapidly, such as in infancy, teenage years, and pregnancy. Folic acid likewise works carefully with vitamin B12 to help make red cell and help iron work properly in the body.

Vitamin B9 deals with vitamins B6 and B12 and other nutrients to control blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine. High levels of homocysteine are connected with heart disease, however scientists are not sure whether homocysteine is a reason for heart disease or just a marker that suggests someone might have heart disease.

It is relatively common to have low levels of folic acid. Alcohol addiction, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and celiac disease can cause folic acid shortage. Also, specific medications might decrease levels of folic acid in the body. Folic acid deficiency can cause:

  • Poor development
  • Tongue swelling
  • Gingivitis
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Shortness of breath
  • Diarrhea
  • Irritation
  • Forgetfulness
  • Mental sluggishness

Pregnant women require more folic acid to reduce the risk of neural tube birth defects, including cleft taste buds, spina bifida, and brain damage. Neural tube problems are abnormality caused by irregular development of the neural tube, a structure that eventually gives rise to the brain and spinal cord. Because folic acid has actually been added to numerous grain foods in the United States, such as bread and cereal, neural tube defects have actually decreased drastically.

Abnormality

As discussed, pregnant women who do not get enough folic acid are most likely to have children with birth defects. Pregnant women ought to get 600 mcg of folic acid each day. Women who prepare to end up being pregnant ought to ensure to get the suggested 400 mcg daily since many neural tube flaws can occur shortly after conception and prior to a female even knows she is pregnant. Prenatal vitamins include the required amount of folic acid for pregnant women.

Research studies reveal that women who take folic acid supplements prior to conception and during the first trimester might minimize their risk of having children with neural tube flaws by 72 to 100%. Other studies suggest that in the setting of folic acid fortification of grains, folic acid supplements does not appear to provide more benefit for avoiding spina bifida.

Folic acid may likewise help prevent miscarriage, although the evidence is not clear.

Child advancement research studies reveal that taking prenatal folic acid supplements at the time of conception is associated with a lower risk of autism. Other research studies reveal that taking folic acid supplements in early pregnancy was related to a minimized risk of severe language delay in children at age 3 years. And some research recommends that low folate levels during pregnancy is related to a higher risk of emotional problems in the offspring.

Heart disease

Folate might assist protect the heart through several methods. First, there is some proof that getting enough folic acid in your diet can lower your risk of heart disease, although this evidence is based on population studies and not more conclusive clinical trials. There is not yet any evidence that taking folic acid supplements would help.

Likewise, numerous research studies suggest that individuals with high levels of the amino acid homocysteine are approximately 1.7 times most likely to develop coronary artery disease, and 2.5 times most likely to have a stroke than those with normal levels. B complex vitamins, specifically vitamins B9, B6, and B12, assist lower homocysteine levels. Nevertheless, there is no evidence that high homocysteine levels actually cause heart disease.

Most people who are worried about heart disease should focus on getting enough B vitamins from healthy foods. In some cases, however, your doctor might recommend taking B vitamins to lower homocysteine levels. If you are worried about heart disease, ask your doctor whether taking a B vitamin supplement is right for you.

Age-related hearing loss

One study recommends that folic acid supplements help slow the progression of age-related hearing loss in elderly individuals with high homocysteine levels and low folate in their diet. It is not known whether healthy elders would benefit.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

One large study found that women who took 2,500 mcg of folic acid in addition to 500 mg of vitamin B6 and 1,000 mcg of cyanocobalamin (vitamin B12) daily reduced their risk of developing AMD, an eye disease that can cause vision loss.

Also read: Macular Degeneration Treatment

Anxiety

The proof about whether folic acid can help alleviate depression is blended. Some research studies show that 15 to 38% of individuals with anxiety have low folate levels in their bodies, and those with very low levels have the tendency to be the most depressed. One research study found that people who did not improve when taking antidepressants had low levels of folic acid. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study discovered that taking 500 mcg of folic acid daily helped the antidepressant Prozac work much better in women, but perhaps not men. Another research study discovered that taking folic acid and vitamin B12 was no much better than placebo in relieving depression in older individuals.

Cancer

Folic acid in the diet appears to protect against the advancement of some kinds of cancer, including:

However, this evidence is based upon population research studies that show people who get enough folate in their diet have lower rates of these cancers. Researchers do unknown exactly how folate might assist prevent cancer. Some believe that folic acid keeps DNA healthy and prevents mutations that can lead to cancer. There is no proof that taking folic acid supplements helps prevent cancer. The best course of action is to make sure you eat a balanced diet with adequate folate, which will help protect you versus a number of diseases.

Low dietary consumption of folate might increase the risk of developing breast cancer, especially for women who drink alcohol. Regular use of alcohol, more than 1 1/2 to 2 glasses per day, is related to greater risk of breast cancer. One big study, involving more than 50,000 women followed over time, recommends that adequate consumption of folate might reduce the risk of breast cancer associated with alcohol.

Dietary Sources

Rich sources of folate include:

  • Spinach
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Asparagus
  • Turnips
  • Beets
  • Mustard greens
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Lima beans
  • Soybeans
  • Beef liver
  • Maker’s yeast
  • Root vegetables
  • Entire grains
  • Wheat germ
  • Bulgur wheat
  • Kidney beans
  • White beans
  • Lima beans
  • Mung beans
  • Salmon
  • Orange juice
  • Avocado
  • Milk

In addition, all grain and cereal products in the United States are fortified with folic acid.

Offered Forms

Vitamin B9 is found in multivitamins, including children’s chewable and liquid drops, and B complex vitamins. It is likewise offered separately. It is a great idea to take folic acid as part of, or together with, a multivitamin because other B vitamins are needed for it to work. It is offered in a variety of kinds, consisting of tablets, soft gels, and lozenges.

How to Take It

Most people (except pregnant women) must be able to get enough folic acid from their diets.

Check with a well-informed healthcare provider prior to taking folic acid supplements or providing to children.

Daily recommendations for dietary folic acid are:

Pediatric

  • Babies, 0 to 6 months: 65 mcg (adequate intake)
  • Infants, 7 to 12 months: 80 mcg (sufficient consumption)
  • Children, 1 to 3 years: 150 mcg (RDA)
  • Children, 4 to 8 years: 200 mcg (RDA)
  • Children, 9 to 13 years: 300 mcg (RDA)
  • Teens, 14 to 18 years: 400 mcg (RDA)

Adult

  • Males and female, 19 years and older: 400 mcg (RDA)
  • Pregnant women: 600 mcg (RDA)
  • Breastfeeding women: 500 mcg (RDA)

Quantities used in studies for heart disease variety from 400 to 1,200 mcg. Nevertheless, high levels of folate can hide a vitamin B12 shortage, and should be taken just under a doctor’s guidance. If you are thinking about taking a folic acid supplement, ask your doctor to assist you identify the right dosage for you.

Precautions

Since of the potential for side effects and interactions with medications, you need to take dietary supplements just under the guidance of an educated healthcare company.

At the suggested daily allowance, side effects from folic acid are rare. Extremely high dosages can cause:

  • Stomach problems
  • Sleep issues
  • Skin responses
  • Confusion
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Queasiness
  • Seizures

Talk with your doctor before taking more than 800 mcg of folic acid. Folic acid can hide the symptoms of an underlying vitamin B12 deficiency, which can cause irreversible damage to the nervous system. Taking any one of the B vitamins for a long period of time can result in an imbalance of other crucial B vitamins. For this reason, you might wish to take a B-complex vitamin, that includes all the B vitamins.

Individuals who are being dealt with for seizures or cancer ought to not take folic acid without speaking with their physicians.

Also read: Side Effects of Vitamin B Complex

Possible Interactions

If you are currently being treated with any of the following medications, you should not use folic acid supplements without first talking with your doctor.

Antibiotics, tetracycline: Folic acid ought to not be taken at the same time as the antibiotic tetracycline since it interferes with the absorption and effectiveness of this medication. Folic acid, either alone or in combination with other B vitamins, need to be taken at various times from tetracycline. All vitamin B-complex supplements act in this method and needs to be taken at different times from tetracycline.

Phenytoin (Dilantin): Phenytoin, an anti-seizure medication, may lower levels of folate in the body. However, folic acid may interfere with the method phenytoin works, raising the risk of seizures. Ask your doctor prior to taking folic acid supplements.

Pyrimethamine (Daraprim): Pyrimethamine is a medication used to prevent and treat malaria and to treat toxoplasmosis. Folic acid might make this medication less effective.

Chemotherapy medications: Folic acid may raise the amounts of 5-fluorouracil and capecitabine (Xeloda) to dangerous levels in the body. If you are going through chemotherapy, ask your oncologist prior to taking any supplements or herbs.

Medications that lower levels of folic acid: The following medications might disrupt the body’s absorption of folate, meaning you might need to take a folic acid supplement while taking them. Speak to your doctor first.

  • Antacids
  • H2 blockers: Used to lower stomach acid, consisting of cimetidine (Tagamet), famotidine (Pepcid), and ranitidine (Zantac)
  • Proton pump inhibitors: Used to lower stomach acid, including someprazole (Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid), omeprazole (Prilosec), and rabeprazole (Aciphex)
  • Bile acid sequestrants: Used to lower cholesterol, including colestipol (Colestid), cholestyramine (Questran), and colsevelam (Welchol)
  • Anti-seizure medications: Including phenobarbital, primidone (Mysoline), and carbamazepine (Tegretol)
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): Including ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve)
  • Sulfasalazine (Azulfidine): Used to treat inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
  • Triamterene (Dyrenium): A diuretic (water tablet)
  • Cycloserine: An antibiotic
  • Pyrimethamine (Daraprim): Used to prevent and treat malaria and to treat toxoplasmosis
  • Trimethoprim: An antibiotic used to treat urinary tract infections

When taken for long periods of time, these medications, in addition to other anti-inflammatory medicines, can increase the body’s requirement for folic acid.

Methotrexate: Methotrexate, a medication used to treat cancer, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and psoriasis, minimizes the amount of folic acid in the body. If you take methotrexate for RA or psoriasis, your doctor may prescribe a higher dose of folic acid, which helps in reducing the side effects of methotrexate. People taking methotrexate for cancer, however, ought to not take folic acid supplements unless their doctor tells them to. Folic acid might interfere with methotrexate’s effects on cancer.


Last modified: March 14, 2017

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