Vitamin B9 is found in a wide variety of foods such as vegetables, legumes, eggs, and fruits. It is also known as vitamin B-9.
Meat is generally low in folate, with the exception of beef liver. Many foods are also fortified with synthetic folate or folic acid.
Folate is one of the B vitamins and is needed in the bone marrow to make red and white blood cells, convert carbohydrates into energy, and produce DNA and RNA.
Adequate folate intake is extremely important during periods of rapid growth such as pregnancy, infancy and adolescence.
This article provides an in-depth look at recommended folate intake, possible health benefits, foods high in folate, and the possible health risks of consuming folate.
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for folate is different for people of different ages as follows:
Recommended folate intake is increased during pregnancy and breastfeeding to support rapid growth and help prevent neural tube defects in the fetus.
The most common causes of folate deficiency include malnutrition, alcoholism, and difficulty absorbing folate or foods containing folate.
In addition, the body requires folic acid to be converted into methylfolate, its active form. Genetics can at times inhibit this transformation, which can lead to folate deficiency.
Taking a supplement in active or reduced form of L-methylfolate (5-MTHF) can help make sure the body is getting the folate in the most beneficial way. Talk to your doctor about individual needs and whether a particular supplement is needed.
Folic acid supplements play an important role in ensuring that vulnerable individuals and those who need more folate get enough. It is also important to increase your intake of folate-rich foods, as these foods typically provide many other nutrients that act together to support health.
It is recommended that people who can conceive take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid per day from dietary supplements in addition to the folate found in various diets.
Reduced risk of congenital deformity
It is very important to consume enough folic acid during pregnancy to help protect against miscarriage and neural tube defects in the fetus.
Recent studies have shown that a father’s folate status before conception may be just as important.
In a study from McGill University, paternal folate deficiency in mice was associated with a 30 percent increase in various congenital deformities compared to offspring without paternal folate deficiency.
Lower Risk of Depression
Low folate status has been associated with an increased risk of depression and poor response to antidepressant therapy.
Folate deficiency has been associated with depression in people with epilepsy, and one study suggested that nutritional supplements could help treat low mood.
Folic acid supplementation has not been recommended as a treatment for depression on its own, but may be helpful in improving response to antidepressants such as fluoxetine, especially in women.
Maintaining a healthy heart
Folic acid supplements have been found to lower homocysteine levels.
Because high homocysteine levels are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, some researchers have suggested that folic acid and B12 may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Vitamin B supplements containing folate may be associated with a lower risk of stroke.
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