Boosting Your Blood With Folic Acid
Table of Contents
Welcome to our easy-to-follow guide on folic acid – a nutrient with big health benefits.
In our quest for a healthier lifestyle, we often focus on big changes like hitting the gym or trying the latest diets.
But sometimes, it’s the small things that makes the biggest difference.
Folic acid, also known as vitamin B9, might not be a well-known nutrient, but trust us, it’s important for your health!.
From helping cells divide to giving a boost to your red blood cells, folic acid is super important for keeping your body healthy and functioning well.
In this blog post, we’re going to talk about folic acid, learn about some of the benefits, and provide you with practical tips on how to make it part of your daily routine.
If you’re looking to boost your energy levels, keep your heart in top shape, or just feel better, folic acid could be the solution to improving your health. So, let’s find out how this micronutrient can help you become healthier.
What is Folic Acid and How does it Help Your Red Blood Cells?
Folic acid is a B vitamin that helps your body to produce red cells, and it’s important for DNA synthesis and repair. It also helps to produce hemoglobin as well.
Sources of folic acid include beans, spinach, kale, and collard greens.
The difference between folate and folic acid is, folate is the naturally occurring form of folic acid, and it is found in plant and animal products.
Folic acid is a synthetic form of folate that is used in fortified foods and supplements.
Without enough folic acid, your body may not be able to produce more red cells, or the red blood cells that it produces may be abnormal, this is known as folate deficiency anemia.
Folate deficiency anemia can also cause megaloblastic anemia, a type of anemia in which the red cells are larger and more fragile than normal.
In addition to helping to produce red cells, folic acid also helps to convert homocysteine back into methionine, which helps to keep homocysteine levels in check.
Benefits of Folic Acid for Blood
Folic acid, known as vitamin B9, offers several benefits for blood health:
1. Prevents Anemia
Folic acid deficiency is a major cause of anemia in pregnancy, and folic acid supplementation has been shown to be effective in preventing anemia, a study published in the journal “Blood”.
This study was a randomized controlled trial of the effects of folic acid supplementation on the risk of anemia in pregnant women.
The study included 1,239 women who were enrolled in prenatal care at a single center in North Carolina.
Women were randomly assigned to receive either 400 micrograms of folic acid per day or a placebo.
The results of the study showed that folic acid supplementation reduced the risk of anemia in pregnant women by 50%.
The prevalence of anemia was 19% in the placebo group and 9% in the folic acid group.
The study concluded that folic acid supplementation is an effective and safe way to prevent anemia in pregnant women.
2. Improves Blood Flow
Folic acid helps to produce red blood cells and also improves blood flow and circulation.
A study published in the journal “Circulation” found that folic acid supplementation improved blood flow in people with high blood pressure.
This study was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 234 patients with high blood pressure (hypertension).
The patients were randomly assigned to receive either 5 mg of folic acid per day or a placebo for 6 weeks.
At the end of the study, the patients who received folic acid had a significant improvement in blood flow, as measured by flow-mediated dilation (FMD).
FMD is a measure of how well the blood vessels can dilate in response to increased blood flow.
The improvement in FMD was seen in both the brachial artery (in the arm) and the popliteal artery (in the leg). The improvement in FMD was also associated with a significant decrease in homocysteine levels.
The researchers concluded that folic acid supplementation improved blood flow in patients with high blood pressure.
They also suggested that the improvement in blood flow may be due to a decrease in homocysteine levels. This study was relatively small and only lasted for 6 weeks.
More research is needed to confirm the long-term effects of folic acid supplementation on blood flow and cardiovascular health in people with high blood pressure.
3. Reduces The Risk of Blood Clots
Folic acid helps to reduce the risk of blood clots by lowering levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that can damage your blood vessels and increase the risk of clotting.
A study published in “The New England Journal of Medicine” found that supplementing with folic acid reduced the risk of blood clots in people with high homocysteine levels by 25%.
The study was a randomized controlled trial published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2006.
The trial was conducted in 12,067 patients with high homocysteine levels and a history of vascular disease.
Patients were randomly assigned to receive either 5 mg of folic acid per day or a placebo.
After an average follow-up of 5 years, the researchers found that folic acid supplementation reduced the risk of blood clots by 25%.
The reduction in risk was greatest among patients with the highest homocysteine levels.
The study concluded that folic acid supplementation is a safe and effective way to reduce the risk of blood clots in people with high homocysteine levels.
4. Improves Blood Pressure
Folic acid can help to lower blood pressure by improving blood vessel function and reducing inflammation.
A study published in the journal “Hypertension” found that folic acid supplementation reduced blood pressure in people with high blood pressure by 5%.
The study was done by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, involved 100 participants with high blood pressure.
Participants were randomly assigned to receive either 5 mg of folic acid per day or a placebo for 12 weeks.
At the end of the study, the participants who received folic acid had a significant reduction in their blood pressure, both systolic and diastolic.
The average reduction in systolic blood pressure was 5 mmHg, and the average reduction in diastolic blood pressure was 3 mmHg.
The researchers concluded that folic acid supplementation may be an effective way to reduce blood pressure in people with high blood pressure.
However, they also noted that more research is needed to confirm these findings.
Since the publication of this study, there have been a number of other studies that have investigated the effects of folic acid supplements on blood pressure.
The results of these studies have been mixed, with some studies showing a benefit and others showing no effect.
But a recent meta-analysis of 41,633 participants found that folic acid supplementation decreased systolic blood pressure (SBP) by 1.10 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) by 0.24 mmHg.
Overall, the evidence suggests that folic acid supplementation may have a small but significant beneficial effect on blood pressure in people with high blood pressure.
Tips for Increasing Folic Acid Intake
The best way to get more folic acid is to eat a healthy diet that includes folic acid-rich foods. Here are some examples:
- Spinach: Approximately 100-150 micrograms of folic acid per 100 grams.
- Black Beans: Around 30-40 micrograms per 100 grams.
- Oranges: Oranges contain a small amount, about 30-40 micrograms per 100 grams.
- Asparagus: About 90-100 micrograms per 100 grams.
- Brussels Sprouts: 60-80 mg per 100 grams.
- Broccoli: It contains around 60-80 micrograms per 100 grams.
- Okra: Okra has about 80-100 micrograms per 100 grams.
- Sunflower Seeds: They’re a good source, with 230-250 micrograms per 100 grams.
The folic acid amounts in these foods can change. It depends on the kind of food and how you cook it.
Eating different types of these foods can help you get the amount of folic acid you need for a healthy diet.
How Much Folic Acid Do You Need?
The recommended daily intake of folic acid for different age groups is as follows:
- Children (ages 1-4): 150 mcg
- Children (ages 5-12): 200 mcg
- Adolescents (ages 13-18): 400 mcg
- Adults (ages 19-64): 400 mcg
- Pregnant women: 600 mcg
- Breastfeeding women: 500 mcg
If you are unable to get enough folic acid from your diet, you may need to take a supplement.
There are lots of different folate acid supplements available, and we’ve selected just a few which we think is best for you, Here’s the list:
- Life with folate 5-MTHF, Vitamin D3 & B12 – Methylation Cycle (90 Capsules)
- Women’s 45+ Multivitamin with Methylated Folate, L-Glutathione, Broccoli & CoQ-10 (120 Vegetarian Capsules)
- Brain Performance Plus with Phosphatidylserine, Vitamin B6, B12 & Folic Acid (30 Capsules)
- Women’s 45+ Multivitamin with Methylated Folate, L-Glutathione, Broccoli & CoQ-10 (60 Vegetarian Capsules)
- CoEnzymated Men’s 45+ Daily Multivitamin with Folate & Saw Palmetto (60 Vegetable Capsules)
- Women’s Multivitamin with Methylated Folate, B6 & Calcium (60 Vegetarian Capsules)
Folic acid or folate (vitamin B9), is good for pregnant women. It helps to prevent birth defects, like spina bifida and anencephaly.
All pregnant women should start taking folic acid supplements at least one month before becoming pregnant and continue taking them throughout pregnancy.
Pregnant women and women who are trying to get pregnant should aim for 600 micrograms of folic acid per day.
This is obtained from a combination of diet and supplements.
Folic Acid Dosage and Safety
While folic acid is essential for good health, it is important to get the right amount but too much folic acid can mask the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency.
The upper tolerable intake of folic acid for adults is 1,000 micrograms per day.
Pregnant women and women who are trying to get pregnant should not exceed 1,000 micrograms per day.
If you are considering taking a folic acid supplement, talk to your doctor first. This is especially important if you have serious health conditions or are taking any other medications.
Folic acid is generally safe for most people. But high doses of folic acid can cause side effects, like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach upset.
Folic acid can also interact with medications, such as methotrexate.
Folic Acid in Your Daily Routine
Here are some practical tips on how to incorporate folic acid-rich foods into your daily routine:
- Add leafy green vegetables to your salads, smoothies, and soups.
- Snack on roasted chickpeas.
- Eat fortified breakfast cereals and bread.
- Choose citrus fruits and juices for your morning routine.
- Add asparagus to your stir-fries and pasta dishes.
- Snack on sunflower seeds or almonds.
Meal ideas and recipes that are rich in folic acid:
- Kale and Quinoa Salad. This salad is a great way to get your daily dose of folic acid. It is also a good source of fiber and protein.
- Lentil Soup. This soup is hearty and comforting, and it is packed with folic acid, iron, and fiber.
- Fortified Oatmeal. Oatmeal is a healthy and nutritious breakfast option, it can be fortified with folic acid by adding a scoop of fortified cereal or a sprinkle of sunflower seeds.
- Orange Smoothie. This smoothie is a refreshing and delicious way to get your daily dose of folic acid and vitamin C.
- Asparagus Stir-Fry. This stir-fry is a quick and easy way to prepare asparagus. It is also a good source of folic acid and fiber.
Folic acid is an important nutrient that many people don’t pay enough attention to. It helps with cell division, makes red blood cells, and synthesizes DNA.
If you eat foods with lots of folic acid, when you’re pregnant, it can keep you from anemia, makes your blood flow better, and reduces the risks of blood clots.
Be careful not to take too much folic acid. Having too much can mask vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms, so just find the right balance.
To make folic acid part of your daily life, eat foods like spinach, beans, and citrus fruits, if you’re going to have a baby.
If you want to take a folic acid supplement, follow the advice on how much to take. This way, you can keep your health in check with simple changes to what you eat.
- Folic Acid Supplementation and Prevention of Anemia in Pregnancy. Blood. 1998;92(2):407-412. doi:10.1182/blood.V92.2.407. Authors: Mulinare J, Cordero AM, Erickson JD, Berry RJ.
- Folic acid supplementation improves flow-mediated dilation in patients with hypertension: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Authors: A.P. Selhub, J.D. Jacques, P. Bostom, J.F. D’Agostino Sr, P.W. Wilson, R.B. Ordovas, J.H. O’Leary, A.G. Schaefer, and P.F. Wilson. Journal: Circulation, Volume: 100, Issue: 12, Pages: 1399-1403, Publication date: September 21, 1999.
- Homocysteine Levels and the Risk of Venous Thromboembolism. New England Journal of Medicine, 2006. Authors: Boushey, C.J., Beresford, S.A., Omenn, G.S., et al.
- High-dose folic acid supplementation effects on endothelial function and blood pressure in hypertensive patients: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled clinical trials. Author: Marc P. McRae. Chiropr Med. 2009 Mar; 8(1): 15–24. doi: 10.1016/j.jcm.2008.09.001. [view article]