Vitamin B9 or folic acid is a prized member of the B vitamins family. Folic acid is essential for good health, boasting numerous rather incredible properties and health benefits. For instance, it plays a key role in cell repair, DNA synthesis, amino acids metabolism and supports leukocytes and erythrocytes production. Even more, vitamin B9 is believed to support the body’s natural disease prevention mechanism, ensuring a better protection against cancer, heart disease and obesity.
In addition to this, the nutrient has been shown to contribute immensely to fetal health and proper development during pregnancy. Folic acid is essential for a normal fetal development. Deficiencies during pregnancy may lead to gaps in the spinal cord which, in turn, cause brain injury, paralysis and even fetal death in utero. Any damage to the brain, spinal cord or spine of an unborn or newborn baby falls into the category of neural tube defects. There is no treatment for any of these conditions, which is why prevention is pivotal.
Very important: all expecting mothers should consider supplementing their diet with vitamin B9 or folic acid which, according to research, can protect against neural tube defects of the brain, spine and spinal cord in newborn babies. Vitamin B12 has also been shown to play an important part in delivering a healthy baby. Your healthcare provider will most likely recommend a multivitamin during pregnancy, containing most if not all essential vitamins and minerals in amounts suited to the growing demands of a pregnancy. Vitamin B9 is also highly recommended before conception as it has been shown to improve fertility and increase one’s chances of getting pregnant. So know that folic acid is one of the first and most important prenatal vitamins to consider for supplementation.
Folic acid boasts numerous other health benefits. For instance, it supports blood cell production. It would appear that folic acid stimulates the body to produce both erythrocytes and leukocytes (red blood cells and white blood cells). This ensures both oxygen delivery to tissues and muscles as well as a proper defense against bacteria and viruses. Both vitamin B12 and iron contribute to red blood cell production (New insights into erythropoiesis: the roles of folate, vitamin B12, and iron).
Several studies suggest that folic acid may be useful against depression. Even more, the nutrient has been shown to help eliminated homocysteine from the blood. High levels of blood homocysteine are shown to cause blood clots, stroke, heart attack, vascular inflammation, artery damage, preeclampsia and miscarriages. A sufficient intake of the vitamin can represent an excellent prevention method and contribute to cardiovascular health.
Moreover, promising research suggests a good intake of folic acid can slow down the aging process. Of course, good lifestyle habits will contribute to a longer, healthier and happier life as well. Last but not least, vitamin B9 supports brain health and brain activity. And the 10 best, most common sources of folate can be found in this folate-rich foods table.
If you are not still convinced, here is a list of some of the most notable benefits of folic acid:
1) Supports red blood cell production and helps prevent anemia.
2) Prevents cardiovascular disease and preeclampsia by reducing homocysteine blood levels.
3) Stimulates cell regeneration, especially of skin cells.
4) Supports nervous system activity and brain functions.
5) Helps prevent dementia, Alzheimer’s included.
6) Reduces the risk of osteoporosis and related bone fractures.
7) Is efficient against depression.
8) Slows down the aging process.
9) Supports normal growth and development of babies in the womb.
10) Reduces the risk of blood clots and stroke.
As you can see, folic acid boats numerous wonderful health benefits. A balanced and varied diet should provide an adequate intake but, if you feel your body has higher demands, you can always take supplements so you can prevent any possible deficiencies. My advice is to consult with your doctor first and, together, work out a strategy fit for your needs.
However, the basis of your health should be your diet. Eat healthy, fresh, natural. Don’t overcook what doesn’t need to be overcooked. Look for variety and, most important, learn to enjoy your food. Make eating a savory experience and learn which foods are the richest in nutrients. Remember: knowledge is power and learning empowers you unlike anything.