Also known as folate and vitamin B9, folic acid is important for so many things — from the creation and repair of DNA, production of red blood cells to proper brain functioning. Since it is a water-soluble vitamin, your body cannot store unused amounts so it needs to be supplied with folic acid on a daily basis.
Luckily, there are many natural sources of folic acid. It is abundantly found in numerous vegetables as well as fruits. There are also plenty of food products that are fortified with it, such as breads and grains.
Deficiency in folic acid may lead to a host of problems. If you are not getting enough of this nutrient, you may experience the likes of weakness, fatigue, irritability, forgetfulness, loss of appetite and weight loss. Anemia related to folic acid deficiency may develop in those with impaired kidney function and alcoholics. Pregnant women are prone to deficiency in the said nutrient. Experts say that pregnant women should supplement with folic acid especially if they are not getting enough of it via the diet, in order to ward off the occurrence of birth defects.
Women are not the only ones who can benefit from folic acid, but men as well. So what are the numerous health benefits of folic acid? They include:
• The nutrient promotes a healthy cardiovascular system. Folic acid pairs with vitamin B12 in preventing the formation of blood clots, thus reducing your risk of having heart attack and stroke.
• It helps reduce your chances of developing deadly cancer. Several studies have shown that low levels of folic acid in the body is associated with certain cancers, in particular that of the colon and stomach.
• Folic acid helps make you feel good. Supplementing with the nutrient is recommended for those who are suffering from depression. It is also something that can help in stabilizing the mood.
• The said nutrient may help ward off diabetes. Folic acid helps reduce the levels of triglycerides in the blood. According to experts, diabetics have high levels of triglycerides present in their blood.
• It helps protect the brain. Several studies have shown that folic acid may help reduce your risk of having Alzheimer’s disease by as much as 50%. The nutrient also helps prevent age-related memory loss.
These are some of the most noteworthy health benefits of folic acid to the mind and body. Needless to say, it is very important for your everyday diet to consist of foods that are rich in folic acid. Again, the nutrient is water-soluble so it needs to be constantly supplied in order to prevent the symptoms and health problems associated with deficiency in.
Here are some of the most excellent food sources of folic acid:
• Beans – Lima, mung, pinto, navy, black and kidney beans are packed with folic acid. They also supply your body with protein, vitamin C, iron, manganese, magnesium, phosphorous and calcium.
• Dark green leafy vegetables – You can get high amounts of folic acid from the likes of spinach, collard greens, lettuce and arugula. These vegetables are also excellent sources of fiber and other vitamins and minerals.
• Cruciferous vegetables – The regular consumption of broccoli and asparagus helps ensure that you are getting enough of folic acid. These cruciferous vegetables also help detoxify the body.
• Oranges – Something as simple as eating oranges or drinking orange juice ensures that your body is supplied with folic acid. Oranges are also packed with vitamin C that’s good for the skin, teeth, bones and immunity.
• Tropical fruits – Mangoes, papayas, bananas, kiwis and avocados — all of them taste wonderful, and including them in your daily diet helps reduce your risk of being deficient in folic acid.
• Egg yolks – Other fantastic sources of folic acid are egg yolks. However, you should limit your consumption of it because it is also rich in saturated fats and cholesterol.
• Folic acid-fortified breads – When shopping for bread, always check that it is fortified with folic acid. There are also numerous grain products on the market that are fortified with the said nutrient.