Dr. Kathleen Jones
Five Minute Folate Facts
Today I want to give you a quick rundown of folate (also called vitamin B9) and talk about why it’s so vital to good health. Folate’s biggest claim to fame is its popularity as a pregnancy supplement, thanks to its well-documented ability to lower the risk of birth defects and promote healthy growth during infancy. But folate isn’t just important for pregnant people and little ones - it is a critical nutrient our bodies need to sustain themselves no matter our age.
What does folate do?
Folate is responsible for a long list of tasks: creating healthy cells, assembling DNA and RNA, producing red and white blood cells in bone marrow, and helping our bodies convert carbohydrates into energy. It also coordinates with other B vitamins to manage levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that can increase the likelihood of stroke and heart disease if left unchecked. Besides its effects on our physical body, folate is also known to impact mood and cognitive function, and it’s thought to have a stronger effect as we age. There has also been a lot of scientific interest in the potential ability of folate to help prevent several mood and neurological disorders like depression and dementia. A National Institute of Health study published in 2012 showed an association between higher intake of folate supplements and a reduced risk of developing dementia.
What are the best dietary sources of folate?
Beef liver contains one of the highest amounts of folate. Beans, nuts, dark green leafy veggies like Brussels sprouts, spinach, and asparagus; avocados, oranges, lemons, bananas, melons, and strawberries. Eggs, seafood, some grains, and dairy products also contain folate, so eating a variety of foods is a good way to get enough. Many cereals, pastas, breads and corn masa flour are fortified with folic acid.
How much folate does the average person need?
The typical recommended dosage is 400mcg (micrograms) or 600mcg for those who are pregnant. Folate deficiency is not very common in the U.S., but it’s good to be aware of the symptoms: fatigue, memory loss, vision problems, mouth ulcers, and a tingling sensation in the arms and legs. Women are more likely to be folate deficient than men, and Black and Latina women tend to have a higher risk of folate deficiency. You’re also more at risk for folate deficiency if you have a condition like Crohn’s or celiac disease, an eating disorder, or an alcohol dependency.
If you’re concerned you may be suffering from a folate deficiency, or if you’re experiencing symptoms of depression, dementia or any other health concern, we are always happy to talk with you about what we do at Elements of Health. Besides our regular services, we offer cognitive testing and a wide range of supplements. If you’d like to learn more, give us a call at (614) 985-1435 today or click here to schedule your virtual consultation.
Corrada, Maria M. 2012. Reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease with high folate intake: The Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging. National Institute of Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3375831/
Feiereisen, Sharon. 2021. New Study Shows Folate Is Directly Linked to the Prevention of Alzheimer’s—Here, the Top 5 Food Sources. Well + Good.
Geng, Caitlin. 2021. What foods are high in folate, and what are its benefits?
Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/287677#summary
Reynolds, E.H. 2002. Folic acid, aging, depression, and dementia. National Institute of Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1123448/
Sissons, Claire. 2019. Folate vs. folic acid: What to know. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/327290#deficiency
Various authors. 2021. Folate (folic acid). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-folate/art-20364625