The Health Benefits of Folic Acid

What is it?

Folic Acid is actually the synthetically made version of folate, which belongs to the family of B vitamins. Folate is found naturally in some foods. It is also water-soluble. It helps with cell production. New cells reproduce more easily when the level of folic acid is at the right level in the body. It can prevent certain birth defects from happening during pregnancy. Doctors prescribed prenatal vitamins that contain this element to pregnant women for this reason.

The Benefits

There are many benefits from having enough folic acid. It prevents birth defects. Women who plan to get pregnant should eat folate rich food even before getting pregnant. During pregnancy women should take supplements to make sure that they have enough. Since the cells have to reproduce to form a baby it is imperative that the body that is creating this baby have enough to support all this cell reproduction.

Folate is required in children and adults for the production of red blood cells. This helps prevent anemia, which can cause people to feel weak and can also be dangerous to their overall health. Severe anemia can keep you from healing in the event of an injury or illness. Also, if you need an operation a lot of doctors will not operate on you until they treat the anemia.

Folate or folic acid along with the vitamin B6 and B12 help the homocysteine to metabolize in the body better. When there is an excess of homocysteine it can cause problems such as coronary heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, and possibly a stroke. Eating a folate rich diet or taking supplements along with the B vitamins mentioned will help the body fight off this problem.


There are many supplements on the market today that contain folic acid. Also many of the breakfast cereals are fortified with it these days. Read the package labeling to find out which ones. Some cereals may be better fortified than others. Usually the no frills and fluff cereals have more vitamins than those that have a lot of sugary things added such as marshmallows.

Certain fruits contain folate. Bananas, cantaloupes, papayas and oranges are just a few of the fruits that do. A serving of fruit daily along with other food containing folate can help people maintain the correct level of folate to be healthy. Of course in pregnancy women still may need a supplement just to be on the safe side.

Spinach, lettuces and turnip greens are just some of the leafy vegetable that contains folate naturally. Some other vegetables that have folate are broccoli, dried beans and peas. People need to eat these foods for other reasons too. Eating a diet rich in these food will give people folate naturally. This may negate them having to take supplements as part of their daily routine. With the exception being pregnant women.

So whether a person is pregnant or just trying to prevent heart disease it is important to pay attention to how much folate they consume. If a person is anemic they should also look at how much they intake.

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Much more than Folic Acid is discussed back at the Natural Source Vitamins Homepage