Did you know about these folic acid uses?
Everyone has heard about folic acid. Physicians often prescribe them when you’re recovering from malaria. Gynecologists recommend them to women who are trying to conceive or women who are already pregnant. There are other reasons why very essential folic acid finds its way into our vocabulary. Before we go into folic acid uses, what is folic acid?
What is folic acid?
Folic acid is sometimes wrongly referred to as folates. Well, both folic acid and folates are different forms of essential, water-soluble B Vitamins. Folate is present in organic plants such as green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes, dried beans, fruits, liver, kidneys, peas and mushrooms. But the synthetic form of this B Vitamin is called folic acid and can be found as dietary supplements.
“Folic acid is a very vital B Vitamin. It can save your life,” says Dr Chibuzo Nwobi, a maternal health researcher at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital. “Especially before and after conception. I am known for my propensity to harp on about all the folic acid uses.”
Many food manufacturers add folic acid in fortified foods such as flour, bread, crackers and so on. Experts all over the world agree that folic acid has numerous benefits.
To make your job easier, we have compiled a comprehensive list of folic acid uses. Our list is based on research, expert opinions and experience.
Some important folic acid uses
1. Cancer prevention.
Folic acid deficiency increases the body’s risk of being attacked by cancerous cells.
“Low folic acid levels are often associated with the development of cancer,” says Dr Chibuzo Nwobi. “As a physician, I take folic acid food supplements religiously. It’s my own way to preventing colon cancer. My menopausal wife takes it to prevent cervical cancer.”
High levels of folate can help cells resists changes in their formation. Take sufficient amounts of these water-soluble B Vitamins.
2. Prevents high blood pressure and other heart diseases
A medical research study showed that women who ingested high amounts of folic acid had a lower chance of becoming hypertensive.
Like most B Vitamins, folic acid keeps your heart strong and healthy. Not only does it prevent hypertension, but it also significantly reduces the risk of stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.
“Folic acid reduces the production of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases,” says Dr Chibuzo Nwobi.
3. Prevents birth defects
If you’re trying to conceive, take a lot of folic acids. Experts have shown that folic acid is effective in preventing specific birth defects often referred to as neural tube defects.
“Neural tube defects are basically malformations of the spine and brain. These defects manifest anencephaly and spina bifida,” says Dr Chibuzo Nwobi. “Spina bifida is a developmental defect caused by the inability of the fetus’s spine and back to close during formation. Children with this defect often struggle with incontinence.”
To boost your baby’s health, ingest a lot of folates and folic acid. Take the recommended dietary supplements given to you during antenatal classes. Alternatively, you can buy an all-in-one prenatal vitamin tablet. Don’t forget to take one tablet every day.
4. Promotes the production of new cells
Folic acid promotes that maintenance and production of new cells and tissues in the body. Healthy levels of folic acid enhance the production of new red blood cells.
“Folic acid is used in the treatment of life-threatening illnesses like anemia,” says DR Chibuzo Nwobi. “Folic acid and folates help your body rebuild blood cells.”
5. Promotes a healthy gut
Folic acid enhances the bowel’s ability to absorb nutrients well. To maintain a healthy gut, take plenty of folic acids.
Folate also helps in the prevention of ulcerative colitis and liver disease.
“A severe lack of folates can cause kidney dialysis and alcoholism,” says Dr Chibuzo Nwobi.
6. Promotes brain function and slowing down the process of ageing
For a long time, folic acid has been used in the treatment of amnesia and Alzheimer’s disease. Its the ability to promote cell regenerations makes it an effective brain health booster. It is for this reason that folic acid is also used in treating age-related hearing loss, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD),
Besides preventing eye disease, it also promotes other areas of geriatric health. For instance it prevents osteoporosis, restless leg syndrome, muscle pains and sleep-related issues.
7. Treatment of gum diseases
“If you develop a blister in your gums, crush a tablet of folic acid and Vitamin C. Apply the powdered mixture to the blister and the wound will heal,” says Dr Chibuzo Nwobi.
Folic acid is effective in the treatment of gum infections and diseases.
Tips to help you benefit from folic acid
The human body is complex and fragile. To maintain a healthy body and a sound mind, you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle: exercise and maintain a healthy diet. However, it is possible to eat a healthy diet and not get a sufficient amount of nutrients. For this reason, every health-conscious individual must go the extra mile to take dietary (or food) supplements.
Folic acid supplements are reasonably priced and can be found in pharmacy stores. They are best taken after a full meal. You can choose to take them after breakfast or lunch or dinner. The choice is yours.
Choose a routine that works for you.
• You can keep a can on your dining table so that you won’t forget it. If, however, you eat out most of the time; you are likely to remember to take your supplements if you keep your bottle of supplements in your car or on your office desk.
• Another trick is to set a daily reminder that works for you. The moment you hear the beep of the alarm, stop whatever you are doing and take your supplement.
• Remember that folic acid is a water-soluble vitamin. You are most likely to benefit from it if you drink a lot of water.
• Don’t rely on supplements alone. Take a lot of folate-rich foods. Most of them are cheap and readily available in the markets. When drawing up your shopping list, ensure that you include green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, meats (especially the liver and kidney), oranges, tomatoes, grapes, dried beans, peas and tangerines.
It is one thing to know all the folic acid uses; it is another thing to be disciplined enough to get the recommended daily amount of this essential vitamin. For pregnant women, the recommended amount is 0.4 mg/day at least a month before conception and during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy. Women who aren’t pregnant are advised to limit their folic acid intake to 1mg/day. Excess amounts of folic acid can lead to Vit. B 12 deficiency.