You may have heard of folic acid, but did you know this vital nutrient is essential for human development? Folic acid is a water-soluble form of vitamin B (B9) however, it cannot be produced by the body.
Folic acid can be found in a variety of foods such as dark leafy greens, spinach, broccoli, asparagus, lentils, chickpeas, and oranges. Along with other vitamin B complex vitamins, it is required to be added to flours and flour based products like cereal, breads, and crackers (both in the US and Canada).
Eating a wide variety of wholesome foods is the easiest way to maintain healthy levels of folic acid. It and vitamin B12 supplements are often recommended to people who show symptoms of a vitamin B deficiency, have sickle cell anemia, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, certain cancers, or pregnant women.
Folic acid is key to DNA synthesis and repair, as well as red blood cell production. This B vitamin also plays an essential role in new cell production and supports nerve and immune functions, making folic acid a crucial nutrient for preventing illness and disease.
It has also been used as a supplementary treatment for a variety of illnesses and symptoms including fatigue, anemia, memory loss, Alzheimers, hearing loss, restless leg syndrome, insomnia, depression, muscle pain, AIDS, skin diseases, and even gum infections.
One of the main nutrients found in prenatal vitamins is folic acid. This B vitamin is crucial for supporting healthy pregnancies for mothers, as well as spinal and brain development in infants.
So, is getting enough folic acid something you should be concerned about? Generally, not for most people. Research suggests long-term supplementation of this vitamin B complex can lead to serious side effects, such as masked symptoms of anemia, seizures, heart problems, insomnia, and stomach discomfort.
Consuming a healthy and well-balanced diet will provide you with an abundance of healthy B vitamins that support long-term health and longevity. If you are still thinking that a folic acid supplement is right for you, then speak to your healthcare provider.
Thinking about taking a multivitamin? Read our post on An Introduction to Vitamins & Supplements.