Can you take folic acid if you are not pregnant?

Ah, folic acid. What a vitamin! It’s the go-to pregnancy essential because it helps to develop the neural tube of your growing fetus. But why should pregnant women have all the fun? What about us non-pregnant folks? Can we enjoy the benefits of this fabulous nutrient too? Let’s dive in and find out.

The Basics

First things first: what is folic acid exactly? It’s one of those B vitamins (specifically, vitamin B9) that plays an important role in DNA synthesis and cell growth. If you don’t get enough folic acid, it can lead to some pretty nasty health problems such as anemia and birth defects (yikes!).

But fear not! Luckily, folic acid is found naturally in many foods such as spinach, lentils, and avocados (best fruit ever). So why would you need to take supplements?

Supplements

The short answer is that sometimes diet alone isn’t enough. For example:

  • People with malabsorption disorders like celiac disease or Crohn’s may be at risk for deficiencies
  • Heavy drinkers (remember Monday nights?) are more likely to experience liver issues which can affect proper absorption
  • Women who could become pregnant need 400mcg of FA daily
  • Adults should aim for around 200mcg per day

The Benefits

So now onto your burning question: what are some benefits for taking folic acid even if you’re not expecting a baby any time soon?

Reduced Risk Of Certain Diseases

Folate intake has been linked to a reduced incidence of colorectal cancer and other cancers over time because it promotes healthy cell division (Go Vitamins!)

According to research conducted by experts at Harvard, “An inverse association was observed between alcohol consumption from wine only or liquor only…and colorectal cancer risk among individuals with low and high folic acid intake.”

So, get some wine in too. Just remember: everything in moderation!

Improved Brain Function

Studies have found that folate can help to maintain cognitive function and ward off age-related memory-loss (Where did I leave my headphones again?)

Support for Depression

Some studies suggest higher levels of folic acid may help mitigate depression symptoms due its the effect on serotonin regulation.

Folate VS Folic Acid?

Whilst food naturally contains ‘folate’ our liver converts it into something called 5-Methyltetrahydrofoltate (yep, a mouthful!). When we take supplements such as ‘Folic Acid’ the body then converts them into this Magic Molecule. Same difference really but worth noting for you chemistry junkies.

The most important thing is ensuring you are receiving an adequate amount of FA daily because folks if it’s one thing we know about vitamins- they are ultra necessary!

Who Shouldn’t Take It ?

If You Have A History Of Cancer Or High Levels Of Vit B12:

Speak with your doctor first before supplementation as high doses could mask other issues.

Those Taking Medications Such As Methotrexate:

This drug used to treat many forms of arthritis does affect how FA works within the body so speak to your medical profession before supplementing.

How Much Is Too Much?

While deficiency is certainly bad news – overdoing folic acid can also lead to obscure side effects including confusion, poor immune system functioning and insomnia (not supportive of being alert during daytime). Be cautious .

As always referring back particularly concerning medication interactions or specific individual dietary requirements should be consulted through your family physician or nutritionist. So why not chat with someone today about what dosage might work best for you?

If anything that wasn’t fun well… I tried my best! Remember though, not only pregnant people benefit from folic acid.

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6152692/

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