The Health Benefits Of Folic Acid.
By: Patrick Mansfield | U.S. Health Alerts

The Health Benefits of Folic Acid:
Folate - found naturally in food - and folic acid - the synthetic version used in supplements - are forms of a water-soluble B vitamin. Since 1998, federal law has required folic acid to be added to a variety of foods such as:
  • Cereals
  • Breads
  • Pasta
  • Cookies
  • Crackers
  • Flours
Certain foods are naturally high in folate. These include:
  • Leafy vegetables
  • Okra
  • Asparagus
  • Bananas, melons, and lemons
  • Beans
  • Yeast
  • Mushrooms
  • Beef, liver, and kidney
  • Orange and tomato juice
The synthetic form, often taken in conjunction with other B vitamins, is used for preventing and treating folate deficiency, as well complications such as anemia, nutrient malabsorption, ulcerative colitis, liver disease, alcoholism, kidney dialysis, and other issues typically associated with low blood levels of folate. 

Pregnant women often take this supplement to help prevent miscarriage and birth defects such as spina bifida. When taken before pregnancy, this vitamin can help reduce the risk of complications such as high blood pressure during pregnancy and also assist the baby in developing properly. 

Some people utilize this vitamin to prevent cancer, including colon cancer or cervical cancer, and to decrease nerve pain as a result of diabetes. It is also used to of lower the risk heart disease and stroke, as well as to decrease blood levels of a chemical, homocysteine, associated with heart disease.

Additional uses of this supplement include:
Gum inflammation
Memory loss and Alzheimer's disease
Age-related hearing loss
Prevention of macular degeneration
Premature aging
Restless leg syndrome
Sleep problems
Nerve pain
Muscle or bone pain
Fragile-X syndrome (an inherited disease)
Increased sperm production

It is also used for reducing side effects that result from medications such as nitroglycerin, lometrexol or methotrexate. Some people also apply it topically to the gum tissue for treating gum infections.

If a patient is having difficulty ingesting the supplement, it is sometimes given intravenously. It is also delivered this way for chronic fatigue syndrome.


The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness of vitamins and holistic remedies based on scientific research. Their scale is as follows: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

The effectiveness ratings for this supplement follow:


Folate deficiency - Taking this vitamin improves folate levels. 

Likely Effective

Kidney disease- High levels of homocysteine are found in about 85% of patients diagnosed with severe kidney disease. Taking this supplement lowers homocysteine levels in people with serious kidney disease but does not appear to lower heart disease-related issues. 

Hyperhomocysteinemia- (high amounts of homocysteine in the blood) - High levels of homocysteine have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Taking this supplement lowers homocysteine levels by 20% to 30% in adults with unbalanced homocysteine levels. Folic acid, along with Vitamin B12, is recommended for individuals with homocysteine levels higher than 11 micromoles/L. 

Reducing side effects of methotrexate (a medication) - Taking this supplement appears to reduce side effects, such as nausea and vomiting, of a medicine called methotrexate. 

Birth defects - As mentioned earlier, consuming folate-rich food and taking it as a supplement during pregnancy reduces the risk of neural tube birth defects.

Likely Ineffective 

Colorectal Adenoma- (growths in the large intestine and rectum) - Taking this supplement does not seem to prevent unusual growths. 

Fragile-X syndrome - This vitamin failed to improve symptoms of fragile-X-syndrome.

As a supplement, it is considered likely safe for most adults when taken by mouth or injected into the veins. Side effects are unlikely when doses are less than 1 mg per day. 

Potential Side Effects

It is possibly unsafe when taken in large doses, long-term. High doses may cause:
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Rashes or skin reactions
  • Sleep disruption
  • Irritability
  • Confusion
  • Upset stomach
  • Behavioral changes
  • Seizures
  • GasExcitability

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