Folic acid or folate is a B-complex vitamin known for many important health benefits. It is essential for red blood cell production thus helps to prevent anaemia. It is also important for preventing pregnancy defects. It is an extremely complicated vitamin with three primary components. These components are PABA (para aminobenzoic acid), glutamic acid, and pteridine. Interaction of folate or folic acid with human body is very complicated. A healthy body can only absorb fifty percent of folate from the available ingested food folate.
Food Sources of Folate or Folic Acid
There many natural foods that contain folic acid. These foods should be part of the daily diet to get the maximum amount folic acid.
Excellent Food sources of folic acid:
1. Romaine Lettuce
4. Turnip Greens
|7. Collard Greens
12. Calf’s Liver
Other than these some of the very good sources of folic acid are:
2. Black Beans
3. Pinto Beans
4. String Beans
6. Ripe Tomato
13. Sunflower Seeds
In addition, all green leafy vegetables contain good amount of folic acid.
Health Benefits of Folic Acid or Folate:
• Folic acid plays an important role in the development of red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body. Lack of folic acid prevents these blood cells to work properly and it can lead to anaemia.
• Folic acid also helps to regulate good blood circulation by preventing the build up of homocysteine. Homocysteine is an amino acid used normally by the body in cellular metabolism and the manufacture of proteins. Elevated concentrations in the blood are thought to increase the risk for heart disease by damaging the lining of blood vessels and enhancing blood clotting. Also, new study showed high levels of homocysteine may develop Parkinson's disease. Therefore, Folate or folic acid plays an important part in neurological health as well.
• Low levels of folic acid can increase the chances of dementia significantly. Homocysteine, a potentially harmful product of cellular metabolism that is converted into other useful compounds by folate, along with vitamin B6 and B 12, was also linked to dementia and Alzheimer's disease. High levels of homocysteine increases the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
• Folic acid is important for the cells such as skin cells, intestinal cells etc. Lack of folic acid decreases the production these cells and it causes many diseases related to the tissues. Deficiency of folic acid can lead to gingivitis, cleft palate, and periodontal disease. Folic acid deficiency can also cause seborrheic dermatitis and vitiligo (patches of unpigmented skin). Studies also showed that cancers of the esophagus and lung, uterus and cervix and colon are related to the folic acid deficiency.
• Folic acid deficiency can lead to many nervous system problems. Mental fatigue, non-senile dementia, depression, restless leg syndrome, nervous system problems in the hands and feet, irritability, forgetfulness, confusion, and insomnia- all of these can happen due to folic acid deficiency. Lack of folic acid in the diet of pregnant women can lead to spina bifida (SB) in their infants. Because of the fact that only 50% of pregnancies are planned, it's so important for all women of childbearing age to get enough folic acid — not just those who are planning to become pregnant.
Deficiency Symptoms of Folic Acid:
Deficiency symptoms of folic acid can be metal fatigue, confusion, forgetfulness, insomnia, depression and irritability. Folic acid deficiency can lead to muscular fatigue as well. Any symptoms related to intestinal tract and mouth can be e result of folic acid deficiency.
Poor diet and poor protein intake can lead to folic acid deficiency. Smoking, heavy alcohol intake and excessive drinking of coffee can be the reasons for folic acid or folate deficiency.