The benefits of folic acid and the body

The benefits of folic acid and the body

folicFolic acid is very popular for the last 10 years, specifically in terms of prevention of neural tube defects in the fetus. Several countries, including Canada, have initiated fortification of foods with folic acid (flour, cornmeal, pasta). It is now routinely recommends that women take extra before you conceive and during pregnancy. With this supplementation and enrichment, so some people may be exposed to high amounts of folic acid, besides its natural occurrence in food.

The roles of folic acid

Folic acid – or vitamin B9 – is an essential nutrient that has several functions. Because of its role in the production of molecules that form DNA, contributes to the prevention of neural tube defects, birth defects – such as cleft palate (cleft lip) – and some cancers (pancreas, breast, colorectal). Its impact on homocysteine, folic acid would also have a positive effect against cardiovascular risk.
We find different sources of vitamin B9, but is concentrated in too few foods consumed by people, such as organ meats, legumes, green leafy vegetables and nuts. This is one reason for the enrichment of foods with folic acid.

For people deficient in vitamin B9, food fortification with folic acid and taking supplements have significant benefits. Indeed, studies show that since the enrichment made its appearance, there is a higher percentage of people who reach the nutritional recommendations for folic acid and notes at the same time, a decrease in neural tube defects, as Canada and the United States.
Although some people seem to have taken advantage of folic acid fortification, there was an increase in the number of people with too high blood levels of folate. This would not be without risk.

Potential adverse effects

Too much folic acid could mask signs of vitamin B12 deficiency, especially in the elderly, which is not trivial since the deficiency in this vitamin has many adverse consequences, some of which are irreversible. As much folic acid can prevent cancer when taken in recommended amounts, so it can increase the risk of developing cancer if absorbed in excessive concentration. But this increase would, for example, of 4 to 6 in 100 000 cases of colon cancer. This same phenomenon was observed with supplements of vitamin C and beta-carotene for other types of cancers.
Moreover, since that began fortification of foods with folic acid, an increase in twin pregnancy phenomenon is observed (twins).

The need to enrich foods with folic acids

This is definitely necessary because there are still many people who do not cover their daily requirement of vitamin B9 due to poor food choices or lack of money to buy foods that naturally contain. In Canada, for enrichment, blood folate concentrations increased 30% in the population. In the US, the proportion of people achieving the recommendations of 400 mcg per day increased from 30% to 39% for white women, 20% to 26% for black women and 17% at 28 % for Mexican women. Also, enrichment can fill part of the folic acid needs increase during pregnancy in those who do not know they have to take surplus or cannot procure supplements.



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