We need folic acid (also known as vitamin B9) daily because it is an essential water-soluble vitamin that plays a critical role in various bodily functions. Our bodies cannot produce folic acid on their own, so we must obtain it through our diet or supplements to ensure proper health and functioning.
How does Folic Acid benefit our health?
Folic acid, also known as vitamin B9, is a crucial nutrient that plays several important roles in maintaining our health. Here are some of the key benefits of folic acid
Cell Growth and Division: Folic acid is essential for DNA synthesis and cell division. It helps in the production of new cells and supports the growth and development of tissues, especially during periods of rapid cell division, such as during pregnancy and infancy.
Prevention of Neural Tube Defects: Adequate folic acid intake is crucial during pregnancy, as it helps prevent neural tube defects in the developing fetus. Neural tube defects are serious birth defects that affect the brain and spinal cord, and folic acid supplementation before and during pregnancy can significantly reduce the risk of these defects.
Red Blood Cell Formation: Folic acid is necessary for the production and maturation of red blood cells. It is involved in the synthesis of hemoglobin, the protein responsible for carrying oxygen in the blood. A deficiency in folic acid can lead to anemia, characterized by a decreased number of red blood cells and reduced oxygen-carrying capacity.
Homocysteine Regulation: Folic acid, along with other B vitamins (B6 and B12), helps regulate homocysteine levels in the blood. Elevated levels of homocysteine are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Adequate folic acid intake can help lower homocysteine levels and support heart health.
Cognitive Function: Some research suggests that folic acid may have a positive impact on cognitive function, especially in older adults. Adequate folic acid intake may help maintain cognitive health and reduce the risk of age-related cognitive decline.
Mood Regulation: Folic acid is involved in the synthesis of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, which play a role in mood regulation. Low levels of folic acid have been associated with an increased risk of depression and other mood disorders.
Cancer Prevention: Some studies suggest that adequate folic acid intake may play a role in reducing the risk of certain types of cancer, such as colorectal cancer. However, more research is needed to fully understand the relationship between folic acid and cancer prevention.
It’s important to note that while folic acid offers numerous health benefits, excessive intake can have adverse effects. It’s generally recommended to obtain folic acid through a balanced diet that includes sources like leafy green vegetables, legumes, fortified grains, citrus fruits, and nuts. For specific health concerns or pregnancy, it’s always advisable to consult a healthcare professional before making significant changes to your diet or supplement regimen.
Folic Acid vs L-Methyl Folate; which one is better?
Folic acid and L-methyl folate (also known as 5-MTHF or methyl tetrahydrofolate) are both forms of vitamin B9, but they have differences in how they are metabolized in the body. The choice between folic acid and L-methyl folate depends on individual factors and health conditions. Here’s a comparison of the two:
Synthetic Form: Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate commonly found in fortified foods and dietary supplements.
Metabolism: Folic acid needs to be converted into its active form (L-methyl folate) by the body before it can be utilized. This conversion process requires specific enzymes and may be less efficient in some individuals, particularly those with certain genetic variations.
Neural Tube Defect Prevention: Folic acid has been proven effective in reducing the risk of neural tube defects when taken by pregnant women before and during early pregnancy.
Availability: Folic acid is widely available in supplements and fortified foods, making it a cost-effective option.
L-Methyl folate (5-MTHF):
Active Form: L-methyl folate is the active, bioavailable form of folate. It does not require conversion in the body and is readily used by cells.
Absorption and Bioavailability: L-methyl folate may have better absorption and bioavailability compared to folic acid, especially for individuals who have difficulty converting folic acid to its active form.
Genetic Variability: Some individuals have genetic variations (polymorphisms) that affect their ability to convert folic acid into L-methyl folate. L-methyl folate bypasses this conversion step, making it a better option for those with certain genetic profiles.
Depression and Mood Disorders: L-methyl folate has been studied for its potential benefits in certain mood disorders, as it is involved in the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. Some individuals with depression may respond better to L-methyl folate supplementation.
In summary, L-methyl folate is considered a more direct and bioavailable form of folate compared to folic acid. It may be especially beneficial for individuals who have difficulties converting folic acid into its active form, such as those with certain genetic variations. However, the choice between folic acid and L-methyl folate should be based on individual health needs, genetic factors, and consultation with a healthcare professional.
For pregnant women or individuals with specific health concerns, it’s important to discuss supplementation options with a healthcare provider to determine the most appropriate form and dosage of folate for their situation.
Folic Acid Tablets available in Pakistan
As of my last knowledge update in September 2021, various brands and formulations of folic acid tablets were available in Pakistan. However, specific product availability may change over time, and I recommend checking with local pharmacies, healthcare providers, or online retailers for the most up-to-date information on folic acid tablet brands available in Pakistan.
When looking for folic acid tablets, you may find them under different brand names or as part of multivitamin supplements. It’s important to read the product labels and consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen, especially if you have specific health concerns, are pregnant, or are taking other medications.
Remember that while folic acid supplementation can be beneficial, it’s important to ensure proper dosage and use based on your individual needs and health status. Always seek guidance from a qualified healthcare provider before making any decisions about supplementation.