Supplements for Health

What are the Folate Health Benefits?

September 28, 2021

Although most people know that folate is important in preventing birth defects in women during childbearing age, many don’t realize it can also be used in vital bodily functions for men and women. It is important to know the risks and benefits of each type of folate. This includes naturally occurring folate as well as food products fortified in folic acid.

Folate is a naturally occurring vitamin that can be found in leafy green veggies (such as spinach, kale, and eggs), as well as citrus fruits, avocados, eggs, broccoli, and beans. Folate, the natural form vitamin B9, is not to be confused or misunderstood with its synthetic sister vitamin B9, folic acid. Folic acid can be present in many fortified foods, dietary supplements, and in many other food products. However, folate is important in DNA synthesis and damage, cellular division and protein synthesis as well as the metabolism of the immune systems. Folic acid is essential for women in childbearing years. It can prevent birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in 1998, required food companies to add folic acids to enriched breads, flours, cornmeal, pasta, and other grains. Moreover, The FDA granted manufacturers the ability to add folic acid to corn masa flour in 2016. This FDA mandate has led to an increase in folic acid intake and a decrease in the number of children born with neural tube defects.

Folate Health Benefits

Folate can provide many health benefits, including:

  • Reduces your chance of developing cancer. In 2018, a study showed that the deficiency dramatically increased the risk of developing various types of cancers.
  • Reduces depression symptoms, particularly in women. Cooper Complete multivitamins might increase the effectiveness antidepressants.
  • The body will be less homocysteine. If too high levels of homocysteine in the body, it can thus lead to artery damage, bloodclots, and cardiovascular disease. Combining it with vitamin B12 can regulate homocysteine levels.
  • It improves brain health. Folate may also be beneficial for mild cognitive impairment in older adults.
  • It is essential for the development of fetal cells. For optimal fetal development, it is crucial that women during their childbearing years consume sufficient folate every day.

Folate Health Risks

It has many health benefits but too much can lead to serious health problems such as:

  • Consuming 800 mcg to 1 gram of Folic Acid daily can increase your cancer risk, especially for colorectal or prostate cancer.
  • Risquer to kidney damage.
  • Too much of it can cause vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms. A deficiency can lead to damage to the nervous system, especially in the legs (also known as peripheral neuropathy). Senior citizens should be aware of this issue as vitamin B12 is more difficult to absorb.

Daily Needs Of Folic Acid

Most supplement labels list folate in micrograms (mcg), dietary folate equivalents, or DFEs. This measurement is necessary because presence in food is less absorbable that folate in supplements or fortified foods. We need less folic acid because it is more easily absorb able in vitamins and supplements, and fortified foods. The National Institutes of Health has this report:

  • 1 mcg of DFE = 1 mg naturally-occurring folate 1 mg naturally-occurring folate = 0.6mcg folic acids from supplements and fortified food

For adults, the recommended daily intake of folic acids is 400 mcg DFE according to the CDC.

Folate Health Benefits: What Supplement Form Is Best?

Many adults consume high levels synthetic folate from processed foods like breads, pastas, and rice. Cooper Complete multivitamins contain 333 mg DFE (200 mg L-5-MTHF), which is the naturally occurring universally metabolized form known as Metafolin(r). Metafolin, an active form known as L-5-MTHF is the most common naturally occurring form of it found in foods. Because it can be absorbed by all, the L-5-MTHF folate form is easily absorbed. It does not require any enzyme activation steps that others may not have.

Reminder: Your physician is the best person to understand your health. It’s important that you talk with your doctor about which supplements might be best for your needs.