Learn how you can benefit today from the Nutra Blast Folic Acid
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What is Folic Acid ?
Folic acid is a type of B vitamin that is normally found in foods such as dried beans, peas, lentils, oranges, whole-wheat products, liver, asparagus, beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and spinach. Folic acid helps your body produce and maintain new cells, and also helps prevent changes to DNA that may lead to cancer. As a medication, folic acid is used to treat folic acid deficiency and certain types of anemia (lack of red blood cells) caused by folic acid deficiency. Folic acid is sometimes used in combination with other medications to treat pernicious anemia. However it will not treat Vitamin B12 deficiency and will not prevent possible damage to the spinal cord. Take all of your medications as directed.
The History of Folic Acid
In the 1960s, Richard Smithells and Elizabeth Hibbard1 noticed that women who had given birth to children with serious birth defects, notably neural tube defects, were likely to have an abnormal formiminoglutamic acid (FIGLU) excretion test indicative of impaired folate status than women with unaffected children. These observations encouraged Smithells to organize a multi-centre intervention study in which vitamin supplementation around the time of conception was given to women who had had a previous pregnancy with a neural tube defect. Participating women were given a multivitamin consisting of eight vitamins that included folic acid (0.36 mg/day), and women who were already pregnant or had declined to take part in the study served as controls. The risk of the recurrence of an unaffected pregnancy in supplemented women was about one-seventh that in the unsupplemented women. In 1980, the results suggested that folic acid, or another vitamin supplement, might reduce the risk of a recurrence.2 The lower recurrence rate in the supplemented women was unlikely to have arisen by chance. Two explanations were possible. One explanation was that folic acid or one of the other seven vitamins prevented some cases of neural tube defects. The second explanation was that women who chose to take the multivitamins represented a more health conscious group, with a healthier diet, who had a low risk of having a further affected pregnancy. It was likely that such selection was operating because women who took the supplement were, on average, of higher socio-economic status than those who did not. Also, more women whose preceding pregnancy did not end in a spontaneous abortion took the supplements than did women who did not have such a history, and absence of a spontaneous abortion in the preceding pregnancy is associated with a lower risk of having a fetal neural tube defect recurrence. Despite these sources of potential selection bias, there could still have been a genuine preventive effect. If this were so, the magnitude of such an effect would need to be estimated, and it would need to be determined whether the responsible component was folic acid or one of the other vitamins. The issue could only be resolved by performing a large trial in which, to avoid bias, women would be randomly allocated to various groups, including a control group that did not receive the extra vitamins. Smithells’ work led to such a trial. With the collaboration of many colleagues I led ‘MRC Vitamin Study’ trial which was launched in July 1983, with the aim of recruiting women known to be at high risk through having had a previous affected pregnancy. It was the intention to obtain information on the outcome of at least 2000 pregnancies unless a sufficiently clear result emerged sooner. By April 1991, sufficiently conclusive results had emerged to warrant ending the trial early.3 There was a 72% protective effect of using folic acid daily in an intention-to-treat analysis and an 83% protective effect in an on-treatment analysis. There was no evidence that the other seven vitamins in the formulation used by Smithells and his colleagues had any effect. It was perhaps surprising that a vitamin deficiency in economically developed countries was an important cause of a common severe malformation. The early work of Hibbard and Smithells and the subsequent work of Smithells et al.2,4 prompted the research that led to the clear result in the MRC Vitamin Study, published in 1991. The results were consistent with those previously published by Laurence et al.5 and those published in 1992 by Czeizel et al.6 The MRC Vitamin Study had a difficult inception. Critics claimed that the trial was unethical even though there was uncertainty over whether any vitamins, let alone folic acid, could prevent neural tube defects.7 It is to the credit of Sir James Gowans, the then Secretary of the MRC, that he recognized the need for the trial and stewarded it through a barrage of hostile press and political commentary. The MRC Vitamin Study showed that about 80% of neural tube defects could be prevented by taking 4 mg folic acid immediately before pregnancy. Subsequent work8 showed that this achieved a greater degree of protection than with 0.4 mg (400 μg) indicating that all women planning a pregnancy should take a 4 mg pill daily (or the more readily available 5 mg), not 0.4 mg as currently recommended. This would mean recommending the same dose for women in general as for women who have already had a neural tube defect pregnancy, for whom 4 mg is already the standard dose. What remains disappointing is that Britain has failed to introduce mandatory fortification of flour with folic acid, as has been done in the USA and about 60 other countries (http://www.sph.emory.edu/wheatflour/globalmap). Expert advisory committees have recommended fortification but the UK Government has not acted. Indeed no European Union country has done so. There may be a systematic failure in the ability to translate research in preventive medicine into public health practice. There is a need for a UK or European Public Health Agency with powers comparable with those available to the US Public Health Service, to regulate on such issues. In the 1990s, on the advice of Godfrey Oakley (Director of the Division of Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the support of the wider medical community (especially the March of Dimes), the Food and Drug Administration's regulations resulted in 1998 in the USA being the first country9 to introduce mandatory fortification of flour and other grains with folic acid to help prevent neural tube defects. Smithells, who died in 2002, was delighted that his lifelong work led to the opportunity to prevent most cases of serious birth defects, but he would have been saddened that his own country had done so little in delivering the benefits of British research to its own population.
The Top 5 Reasons You Need Folic Acid
1.Aids in fetal development Folic acid is very essential for adequate and appropriate brain and spinal cord development of the unborn child. Deficiency of folate in pregnant women leads to birth defects in the fetus like paralysis, brain damage or even still birth. By taking sufficient amounts of this vitamin during pregnancy, women can eliminate the risk of birth defects in children. Read more about importance of folic acid in pregnancy
2.Keeps the brain young Adequate levels of folic acid are necessary for normal functioning of the brain. Research studies have shown that folate slows down the effects of aging by acting on the brain. Helps production of blood cells Folic acid is important for the production, maturation and development of red blood cells and prevention of anemia. It is also found to be helpful in the production of white blood cells that play a vital role in the body’s defense mechanism. Read about there’s more to anaemia than just iron deficiency!
3.Keeps heart diseases at bay Folic acid keeps your heart healthy and helps to function optimally along with preventing the risk of various health complications like stroke, heart diseases and coronary diseases. Folate aids in the removal of a toxic compound called homocysteine (it leads to severe arterial damage) from the blood . Read how folic acid and Vitamin B helps to prevent heart disease
4.Helps to prevent type-2 diabetes Folic acid is found to increase the breakdown of triglycerides (fats present in the blood). High blood levels of triglycerides are associated with obesity and thus, increased risk of type-2 diabetes.
5.Prevents cancer Folic acid is crucial for normal cell division and DNA repair mechanisms. Research has shown that this vitamin has a role in prevention of cancers of stomach, breast, colon and pancreas. Read more about the relation between folic acid and breast cancer
The Benefits of Folic Acid
While researchers don't know why folic acid helps prevent birth defects, it has been shown to significantly prevent major birth defects, especially those that can occur very early in pregnancy, often before women even know they're expecting. These include problems with your baby's developing brain and spinal cord, called neural-tube defects (NTDs), like spina bifida (the leading cause of childhood paralysis) and anencephaly (a fatal condition in which a baby is born with a severely underdeveloped brain and skull). Related: Taking Folic Acid During Pregnancy May Lower Autism Risks The vitamin may also help keep your baby from developing a heart defect, cleft lip, or cleft palate, and has been linked to the prevention of autism. A recent UC Davis study found that mothers who took the amount of folic acid found in most prenatal vitamins were less likely to have children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), even if they'd been exposed to household pesticides, a known risk factor linked to autism. Additionally, pregnant women need folic acid to support the rapid growth of the placenta and fetus. The nutrient aids in baby's DNA production and cell division; without it, your baby's development could be impaired. "Half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned," says Diane Ashton, MD, deputy medical director for the March of Dimes. "So it's important that all women of child-bearing age take folic acid supplements every day, just to be safe, even if they're not trying to get pregnant just yet." In fact, research from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston revealed that taking folic acid for at least a year before conceiving may reduce the risk of preterm birth by 50 to 70 percent. About 13 percent of babies are born prematurely every year. Another study found that women with folic acid deficiencies were two to three times more likely to have a premature baby or a baby of low birth weight than those who got enough of the vitamin. Luckily, prenatal vitamins are packed with folic acid, and taking one every day before you get pregnant and during pregnancy can make a huge impact on keeping you and your baby healthy.
Why Folic Acid Is The #1
Women, especially those of a child-bearing age, have been told to take their folic acid for ages, but what are its true benefits? It turns out that folate, a water-soluble B vitamin, can help protect against heart disease, memory loss, and cell degeneration. It can also promote hair and nail growth, making this vitamin popular among young women. Be advised though: there can be too much of a good thing. The recommended daily intake of folic acid varies from person to person, so you should find out how much is right for you before you buy. As mentioned previously, folic acid is important for pregnant women as the nutrient promotes healthy fetal growth. Folate helps to reduce the risk of certain birth defects in the brain and spine, also known as neural tube defects. The proper daily intake of folate for pregnant women is 600 micrograms. The same daily dose is recommended for breastfeeding women in order to give their baby important cell building nutrients. For healthy adults, folate can offer protection from a variety of ailments. The recommended daily dose is slightly less than for pregnant women, at only 400 micrograms. However, too much folic acid can lead to issues with mental impairment, so don't go overboard. When used correctly, folate can help reduce instances of heart issues and stroke in otherwise healthy adults. For children, the recommended daily dose of folic acid is anywhere from 150-400 depending on age. Many baby formulas and foods are fortified with folate to help promote cell and brain development. Again, too much folate can be risky for children down the road, so stick to the recommended doses. Folate can be found not just in folic acid supplements but also in many healthy foods. Lentils, asparagus, and spinach are all great sources of folate. Chickpeas are also high in folate, so why not make a delicious homemade hummus dip? Kids love dipping veggies and bread in hummus, and it’s always popular at potlucks. There are tons of great recipes online for folate-rich foods that are low-fat and totally delicious. Folic acid has always been a go-to supplement for child-bearing women, but the fact is that everyone can benefit from folate intake. The vitamin B derivative can promote heart health and cell growth while helping to prevent certain types of cancers and birth defects. So take that daily vitamin or cook up some sautéed spinach and get your folic acid going!
Top 3 Questions People Ask AboutFolic Acid
1. What effects can high intakes of folate or folic acid have on health?No undesirable effects have been observed to date due to the intake of folate from regular diets. Moreover, current information indicates that the recommended dose of 400 micrograms of folic acid per day before and during pregnancy is safe for women. If folic acid intake exceeds 1,000 micrograms, this can mask the neurological changes caused by possible vitamin B12 deficiency. Consequently, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has defined a safe upper intake level (UL) of 1,000 micrograms for adults and suitably lower intake amounts for children. Vitamin B12 deficiency may be found above all in older people, who cannot effectively absorb vitamin B12 from their food, and in vegans. A folic acid intake permanently above the UL increases the risk of undesirable effects on health.
2.How much folic acid should women take?Health Canada recommends that all women who might become pregnant take a daily multivitamin containing 0.4 milligrams of folic acid to prepare for a health pregnancy and protect against neural tube defects. The agency recommends that all women who are of childbearing age take a daily dose of the vitamin because many pregnancies are unexpected. Women with diabetes, obesity or epilepsy could be at higher risk of having a child with neural defects and should consult their doctors before taking folic acid. Women should not take more than one milligram of folic acid per day without first consulting a doctor. (Source: Health Canada) A recent study by University of Toronto researcher Dr. Young-In Kim found that, on average, folate levels among pregnant Canadian women are 2.5 times higher than what doctors consider “very high.”
3. How it works?Folic acid is one of the B group vitamins; vitamin B9. Folic acid is the synthetic version of vitamin B9 that is found in supplements and fortified foods. Folate is the natural form of vitamin B9 that is found naturally in foods such as asparagus, beans, beets, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, liver, oranges, peas, salmon, spinach, whole-wheat products, and yeast. All of the 8 B-vitamins help convert carbohydrates into glucose and help the body to utilize fats and protein. Our brain, eyes, hair, liver, nervous system and skin require B-vitamins for proper functioning and good health. Folate and folic acid are particularly important during periods of rapid growth and development, such as during pregnancy, in infancy, and in adolescence. Folic acid/folate deficiency is relatively common, particularly among people who regularly drink alcohol, or who have inflammatory bowel disease or Celiac disease. Symptoms of folic acid deficiency include gingivitis, poor appetite, poor growth, neural tube defects in babies, shortness of breath, and tongue inflammation. Folic acid deficiency may also be associated with diarrhea, irritability, forgetfulness and mental sluggishness.
Tips for a Folic Acid
•Take folic acid supplements with a full glass of water, either with or without food.
• Take as directed. Dosages may vary depending on age and pregnancy/breastfeeding status. Do not take more than recommended. If you are taking folic acid because you are deficient in folate, the dosage of folic acid may also decrease as your deficiency reduces.
• Even if you are not planning on having a baby, if you are a woman of child-bearing age and capability, then you should consume 0.4 mg (400 micrograms) of folic acid daily.
• If you are concerned about your risk of developing heart disease, ensure your diet contains adequate levels of B vitamins in the form of vitamin B-rich foods.