It is known by several names including Folic Acid, Vitamin M, Vitamin B9, Folacin and is very essential in cell division and rapid growth. Folic acid is the most synthesized form of folate and used in foods and supplements such as Alpha Levo IQ to enhance the health. Low intake of folate can lead to adverse conditions ranging from birth defects to anemia and potentially cancers as well.
Due to its significance and contribution to our wellness, many health organizations advocate its intake and this has reduced the occurrence of neural tube disorders with fewer birth defects.
If the word foliage sounds like folate, it is not a mere coincidence. It is because the word is coined from a Latin term- folium which means leaf, which proves why green leafy vegetables are the richest source of folate.
Sources of Folate
It is not just present in leafy vegetable, going by its name and is available in many sources of fruits and legumes. Some of the major sources are:
- Kidney Beans
Functions of Folate
- Brain and Nervous System – It aids in the production of messaging molecules that send out signals to the nerves called as neurotransmitters of the brain. Folate is said to stimulate neurotransmitters like Dopamine, Serotonin and GABA. All these neurotransmitters are central to performing cognitive tasks of the brain and control our body clock system.
- Cardiovascular Support – It supports the functioning of the heart and lowers the risk of heart disease by successfully regulating homocysteine levels and nitric oxide which are key in controlling blood pressure with good blood flow.
- Production of Red Blood Cells – It helps to produce hemoglobin or red blood cells of the body which carries oxygen from lungs to different parts of the body.
- Reproduction – Folate enables cell division and production of neurons of the fetus during pregnancy. It plays a big role in DNA synthesis and repair. When there is a deficiency of folate during pregnancy, it will lead to neural tube defects of the newborn which disrupts the growth of nerves and cell division. Therefore, folate intake is very essential during pregnancy and is administrated in pills for women.
- Overall Health Benefits – It is said to reduce the risks associated with cancers and also aid in the treatment of health problems like depression and mood disorders.
Benefits of Folate
- It plays an integral role in the development of the fetus and its benefits for pregnant women and their offspring cannot be undermined. It reduces the chances of birth defects during early stages of pregnancy.
- It provides neurological support and studies have shown a positive relation between folate levels and overall neural health. It aids in the efficient production of brain signals to improve communication and in turn greatly impact brain functions.
- It helps to manage mood and treat depression related disorders. Since it encourages the creation and absorption of neurotransmitters in the brain to pass signals, it helps to regulate our mood and thought process.
- It keeps your heart healthy and reduces the risk of heart disease. Also lowers risk of stroke by regulating the homocysteine levels in the blood. Taking folic acid supplements can make you less prone to heart disease, stroke, blood clotting and blood vessel damage.
- Many studies have shown that increased folate intake can lower risks of colorectal, lung, ovarian, cervical and other cancers due to its role in the regulation of DNA synthesis. It thwarts unwanted mutations in the cell and reduces progression of tumors or cancers.
- It keeps your brain young and reduces the effects of mental slow down with aging by keeping the brain signals healthy.
Folate: The Facts are Strong
The inherent significance of folate intake is strong and helps keep our overall health in a good shape. It plays the role of an activator that shows positive effects on brain cognition, mood enhancer and greater productivity. It promotes the health of the heart and prevents cancer in the long run.
It is very important to have a continuous intake of folate during periods of rapid growth in pregnancy, infancy and adolescence to prevent the risks of birth effects on the offspring. Most women are encouraged to take prenatal vitamins with a high dosage of folate during pregnancy and breastfeeding to deter any ill effects.
So, adequate folate intake in your diet will lead to better health prospects and mental function of the brain for overall well-being. It is indeed a very promising nutrient that needs to be given its due value in different stages of our life.