Tags: antacids, anti-inflammatory drugs, arthritis drugs, cervix, cigarette smoke, contraceptives, Daily Value, DNA, estrogen, folate deficiency, folate level, folic acid, food processing, Good food sources, heart disease, homocysteine, human papillornavirus, methotrexate, nonsteroidal, oral contraceptives, pancreatic extracts, stroke, Supplement Description
Daily Value: 400 micrograms
Good Food Sources: Fortified cereals, pinto beans, navy beans, asparagus, spinach, broccoli, okra, brussels sprouts.
Folic acid is a nutritional powerhouse that makes things happen within the body. It works with approximately 20 different enzymes to build DNA, the material that contains the genetic code for your body, and is essential for normal nerve function.
It also seems to prevent heart disease and stroke by reducing the body’s levels of homocysteine, an artery-attacking chemical that accumulates in the blood of people who eat meats.
What’s more, folic acid may help protect against cancer of the ovaries, colon, and cervix. Researchers found that women with high levels of folate (the naturally occurring form of folic acid) were two to five times less likely than women with low folate levels to develop cervical dysplasia in conjunction with various risk factors such as cigarette smoke, human papillornavirus, contraceptives, and childbirth. (Cervical dysplasia is a condition involving the development of abnormal cells in the cervix. This condition can progress to cancer in some women.)
Folic acid also protects a woman’s fetus from life-threatening birth defects of the brain and spine.
Studies show that 50 to 70 percent of neural tube defects, like spinal bifida, could have been prevented if mothers had taken folic acid supplements before and during their pregnancies. Because of the strong link between birth defects and folate deficiency, in 1998 the U.S. government mandated that folic acid be added to all grain and cereal products. Unfortunately, a survey by the March of Dimes has found that two- thirds of women of reproductive age still aren’t getting the recommended 400 micrograms of folic acid they need to prevent birth defects, and only 7 percent knew that folic acid should be taken before pregnancy.
Consume In Right Way :
Folic acid has virtually no side effects, even when taken in high amounts. For most people,-taking more than 1,000 micrograms has no benefit. Unless a doctor prescribes high doses of folic acid, supplements shouldn’t exceed 1 milligram (1,000 micrograms) a day. Doses of more than 400 micrograms a day can mask symptoms of pernicious anemia, a potentially fatal disease due to vitamin B12 deficiency.
In general, 0.4 milligram (400 micrograms) of folate is a good amount to get in a day, and with careful planning that can be achieved, a day’s worth of folate could look like this: 1 cup of orange juice (110 micrograms) and 1 cup of folate-fortified cereal (160 micrograms) plus a cup of raw spinach in a lunch or dinner salad (130 micrograms).
Although folate is available in these and many other foods, be aware that as much as 50 percent of the nutrient is destroyed during food processing, storage, and household preparation. In general, much of the folate in foods is killed by heat and light.
Several substances can increase your need for the vitamin, including alcohol, tobacco, aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, oral contraceptives, pancreatic extracts, estrogen, antacids, arthritis drugs such as methotrexate, and medications prescribed for convulsions, malaria, and bacterial infections.