What is Folate/Folic Acid?
Folate is a b-complex vitamin that exists naturally in a variety of foods. Folic acid, folate’s synthetic counterpart, is consumed as an additive in enriched foods or as a dietary supplement—the latter of which is typically available as part of a B-complex formulation. Folate is of great importance to pregnant women as adequate intake of the vitamin helps prevent certain birth defects and other malformations of the fetus. In the late 1990s the United States Food and Drug Administration passed legislation requiring the inclusion of folic acid in enriched foods to help reduce the risk of birth defects.
What are the health benefits of Folate/Folic Acid?
Folate or folic acid are used to treat certain forms of heart disease, stroke, various symptoms of pain including lower back pain and muscle spasms, gout, gum disease, headaches, hearing loss, and psoriasis. There is an ongoing and complicated investigation being done to determine the relationship between folate/folic acid and cancer, though some studies suggest that the vitamin reduces the risk of certain cancers. Folic acid is also recommended as a supplement for the elderly as a preventive measure against age-related conditions such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s diseases.
What foods are good sources of Folate/Folic Acid?
Folate can be found in leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, beet greens, or chard, and other green vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, asparagus, and broccoli. It is also found in cereals, baked goods, bananas, melons, lemons, legumes, yeast, mushrooms, liver and kidney meats (of beef), orange juice, and tomato juice.
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