As vitamins and supplements go, folic acid is a B vitamin that is known mainly for its ability to fight cardiovascular disease. Folic acid is found naturally in green leafy vegetables and legumes, but if you don’t eat enough of these, it’s a good idea to take folic acid as a supplement. If you don’t get enough folic acid in your diet, you may be unnecessarily risking the possibility of heart problems and other serious illnesses. Studies have proven that the right amount of folic acid in your blood stream can go a long way towards fighting cardiovascular disease, specifically the blocked arteries caused by having high levels of homocysteine in your blood stream.
If you never heard of homocysteine, you are not alone. This is a fairly newly discovered danger to the arteries in the head and neck, and is partially responsible for the blockage of these arteries. Homocysteine is a type of amino acid in the blood, which becomes oxidized and releases an excess of the vicious free radical called superoxide. Homocysteine is similar to cholesterol in the way that it begins to block blood vessels, which can trigger a heart attack or stroke. This danger can affect some 30 to 40% of older adults in the United States.
The good news is that deficiencies in folic acid are easy to fix. Just taking a folic acid supplement of 400 to 1,000 micrograms a day can help save someone with low folic acid levels form a heart attack. The right amount of folic acid can be found in an over-the-counter multivitamin. Along with vitamins B12 and B6, you have the perfect formula to help prevent heart attacks.
Folic acid supplements can also help block and reverse cancer, even after premalignant cells are found. This is because the levels of folic acid may not be uniform throughout the body. So, targeted cells for cancer can actually be deficient in folic acid. Studies on cervical cancer have shown that women with lower folic acid levels in the blood cells around the cervix were five times more likely to develop pre-cancerous cells in the cervix area. By taking folic acid supplements and raising the level of folic acid in the entire body, the spread of cancer to healthy cells in unprotected areas of the body may be blocked.
Folic acid supplements can also help preserve normal brain function as you grow older. Regularly taken folic acid supplements can help prevent memory loss, depression, and dementia, which are much more common in older people who have low levels of folic acid. For younger people, folic acid seems to improve memory, concentration, and emotional stability. All of this can be accomplished with moderate doses of folic acid supplements.
Folic acid is available in foods like dried beans, spinach, collard greens, and citrus fruits. However, your body only generally absorbs about fifty percent of the folic acid in food. Foods rich in folic acid are still good for you, but if you want all of the benefits of folic acid, it is still wise to take a folic acid supplement. This is especially true if you want the added benefits of preventing cancer, cardiovascular disease, or other more serious illnesses.
Remember the power of folic acid becomes even more powerful when combined with vitamin B12 and B6. The recommended dose of all three is available in a standard multivitamin, available at pharmacy or grocery store.