Folic acid, also popularly known as folate, is an essential vitamin (vitamin B9) that is needed by our body for carrying out a number of internal and external functions. According to researchers, it plays a vital role in cell division, thereby assisting in the production of our genetic material i.e. DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid). It also actively takes part in the growth of cells and tissues. The development of a healthy brain is not possible without sufficient folic acid in the diet. Apart from these, the nutrient is pretty much essential for proper maintenance of our skin and hair too. In a nutshell, folic acid is an indispensable part of our diet and we should consume it in adequate amounts.
Dietary Sources Of Folic Acid
The best thing about folic acid is that it is found abundantly in most of the common food items present in our daily diet. Some of the best natural resources of folic acid are: green leafy veggies (spinach, broccoli, etc.), cauliflower, carrots, root vegetables, lentils (legumes, beans, peas, etc.), nuts, Brussels sprouts, corn, red bell peppers, tomatoes, asparagus, artichokes, edible mushrooms, bananas, papayas, avocados, berries (strawberries, raspberries, etc.), citrus fruits (oranges, melons, etc.), fortified cereals, meat (poultry, pork, kidney and liver meat), shellfish, eggs, dairy products, wheat bran, whole grains, and so on.
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Benefits Of Folic Acid For Health
Folic acid offers a wide range of health benefits and here is a list of the same:
- Eases Pregnancy
The most important health benefit of folic acid is its capacity of making pregnancy smooth and effortless. A woman must consume lots of folate during her preconception period as well as pregnancy along with prescribed medications. From increasing the chances of conceiving to ensuring proper development of the fetus (growth of skin and hair cells), this nutrient can help us a lot while taken in adequate quantity. Folic acid can also prevent miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight, neural tube birth defects, and the risk of cleft lip and palate.
- Averts Diabetes
When it comes to preventing as well as treating type-2 diabetes, the need of including a sufficient amount of folic acid in our diet can’t be ignored. It can decrease the amount of fat content present in our bloodstream, thereby managing obesity efficiently. This eventually helps in preventing the occurrence of type-2 diabetes.
- Takes Care Of Heart
The recommended intake of folic acid can help us maintain good cardiovascular health. It regulates as well as keeps our blood pressure stable with its well-balanced sodium and potassium ratio. It is capable of preventing the absorption of cholesterol so that the flow of blood remains smooth all through our body. Being high in magnesium, it can also unwind the cardiac muscles easily. All these are necessary to keep cardiovascular diseases like blood clotting, hypertension, heart attack, etc. at bay.
- Stops Cancerous Growth
Folic acid has an amazing power of inhibiting the growth of cancerous cells. Regular intake of folic acid in adequate quantity can help us fight against certain types of cancers (breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, cervical cancer, colon cancer, etc.) by preventing the tumor cells from multiplying.
- Prevents Alzheimer’s Disease
Patients, who are suffering from memory loss caused by aging and other related brain disorders including Alzheimer’s disease, can found the intake of folic acid extremely helpful. It improves the functions of our brain cells, thereby strengthening our memory significantly.
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- Cures Anemia
Folate plays a key role in forming RBCs (Red Blood Corpuscles) in our blood, which is beneficial for anemic people. As it ensures proper growth and count of RBCs, enough blood is pumped throughout our body and we can steer clear of various symptoms of anemia.
- Smoothens Menstruation
Folic acid can reduce the exhaustion caused by heavy flows during the menstrual cycle. It provides enough RBCs to our bloodstream, which ensures a good circulation throughout the body and improves the condition to a great extent.
- Aid In Digestion
Folic acid, along with other nutrients like vitamin B and vitamin C, can aid in digestion remarkably. It facilitates bowel movement, puts a stop to constipation, cures stomach illness, and digest as well as utilize proteins in our food tract. All these eventually enhance the entire process of digestion.
- Treats Depression
Folic acid can enhance our mood by regulating the GABA neuron chemical levels in our brain. As a result, our brain functions in a normal way and we can stay away from stress, tension, and depression.
Benefits Of Folic Acid For Skin
We have also listed down various skin benefits of folic acid:
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- Controls Breakouts
- Fights Premature Aging
Regular consumption of enough folic acid will not only reduce the appearance of signs of aging like wrinkles, fine lines, etc. but the collagen production in your skin will also be boosted to give you firmer and toned skin.
- Protects From Sun Damages
Too much sun exposure can damage the DNA in our skin cells, thereby making us vulnerable to skin cancer. Folic acid can reverse such sun damages by repairing the DNAs and developing healthy skin cells.
- Adds Healthy Glow
Being a vitamin, folic acid can nourish our skin and add a natural healthy glow to it while keeping moisturized and supple.
However, an overdose of folic acid might lead to a number of side effects including rashes, fatigue, hypertension and even seizure. Hence, consult with your physician before starting a folic acid treatment for your health or skin.