Nutrition

Folic Acid: A Woman’s Best Friend (And Why You Need It)

They say that diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Well, I’m here to set the record straight that folic acid is really your best friend.

I know it’s not nearly as glamorous as diamonds, but it is arguably one of the most important vitamins your body needs.

Ok, so all of the vitamins are important, but folic acid plays a critical role in the diet, especially for women.

It has many roles, ranging from healthy pregnancies to glowing skin and nails. (Now are you ladies interested?)

Let’s take a minute to spotlight this fabulous vitamin, and how to get what you need to radiate inside and out.

What is Folic Acid?

Folic acid goes by many names and comes in different forms. In fact, it is actually the synthetic form of vitamin B9. Folate is the natural form found in foods.

Now, even though it is the manufactured form of folate, it’s still just as important when it comes to getting what you need to be healthy.

Some studies have actually found that folic acid is better absorbed by the body than most folate.
So when I talk about the importance and benefits of folic acid, I’m really talking about vitamin B9 in both of its forms.

Folic acid, along with the rest of the B vitamins, is water soluble, meaning it can be dissolved in water. Unlike the fat soluble vitamins, water soluble vitamins are not stored by the body, so it’s important to get these vitamins through your food or supplements consistently throughout the day.

Its best buddy is vitamin B12. Together they protect the body from disease to make sure your nervous system is working properly.

Folic Acid Food Sources:

Since folic acid is the manufactured form of the vitamin, you will only find it in supplement form or in fortified foods.

Most of our food supply includes breads, cereals, pastas and other packaged foods that are fortified with folic acid. In the United States, Canada, and Chile, It’s actually mandatory that foods be fortified with it.

This is largely because of it’s protective properties, and it’s actually not that uncommon to be deficient, especially if you are a celiac, have IBS, are on certain medications, or drink too much alcohol.

Whole food sources of folate include green leafy veggies, citrus fruits, dried beans, lentils, nuts, avocado, okra, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and asparagus.

Unfortunately, our diets today often fall short in these whole food sources. That’s where folic acid comes to the rescue!

foods with folic acid infographic

Why is Folic Acid Important?

Folic acid has several important responsibilities in the body. It’s basically a superhero. Let’s take a look at some of the most impressive functions:

Neurological health:

It just might prevent some bad moods, depression, dementia and more. Adequate levels of folate are also important for proper brain functioning. Studies over the years have found those with folate deficiencies are more likely to have depression and other mood disorders, as well as impaired cognitive function.

DNA Synthesis:

It plays a major role in DNA synthesis and healthy cell growth and repair. It is key in the development of red blood cells (red blood cells take oxygen around your body). Because the average life of a red blood cell is 120 days, you need to constantly make sure you are getting enough folate in your diet.

Red blood cells contain a molecule called hemoglobin, which carries oxygen from your lungs to all parts of the body.

Protector Against Kidney Disease:

It does quite a bit to protect you from some nasty diseases.

About 85% of people with kidney disease have high levels of the amino acid homocysteine.

Homocysteine is sort of the antagonist, a villain if you want to label it, when it comes to health.

When homocysteine occurs at high levels in the body, an array of problems can occur. In fact, high levels of homocysteine are linked to heart disease and stroke. Levels of homocysteine increase with age, making aging even more of a bummer.

Homocysteine is linked with heart disease because it can cause excess inflammation in the body. If you didn’t know already, chronic inflammation is essentially the root cause of chronic disease from stroke to diabetes. It’s bad news.

Interestingly enough, if folic acid and other B vitamin intake is adequate, this seems to result in lower homocysteine levels by 20 to 30% in people with serious kidney disease. But it is important to note that supplementing with folic acid doesn’t seem to reduce heart disease. Supplementing with it is more effective in lowering the amount of homocysteine in the blood and kidneys.

Why is Folic Acid Important For Women?

Close up of a cute pregnant belly

One of folic acid’s most well-known uses is to aid in the development of the fetus. Since it aids in the production of red blood cells, it helps the baby’s neural tube mature and grow properly.

Birth defects are most likely to occur in the first 3-4 weeks. This is why it is SO important for mothers to have enough of it before and during pregnancy, and while breastfeeding.

Most doctors recommend taking a folic acid supplement at least a month before even trying to get pregnant. One study found that women who took folic acid a year before getting pregnant reduced the risk of delivering early by 50%.

Even if you aren’t planning on being a mom any time soon, folic acid is still vital for women, for all those reasons we already talked about.

Folic Acid Deficiency Symptoms:

Feeling a little grumpier than usual? Feel tired and sluggish all the time? Maybe having a hard time concentrating, or experiencing unintentional weight loss?

You might be deficient in folic acid.

Since it affects the brain and nervous system, often the deficiency symptoms relate to our mood, memory, and energy. If you are often fatigued, if you get sick easily, if you’re experiencing canker sores, tongue swelling,or experiencing premature hair graying, you may be deficient in folate.

What Causes Folate (Folic Acid) Deficiency?

1. Poor Diet

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If you fail to eat a healthy diet that consists of fresh fruits and veggies you could be folate deficient. In fact, a poor diet is the main cause of folate deficiency.

Also if you do eat veggies, be careful to NOT overcook them. Overcooking your vegetables can destroy the vitamins and other important nutrients.

Light steaming and baking are the best choices to keep those vitamins and nutrients. DO NOT boil your veggies.

2. Alcohol

You really could blame folic acid deficiency on the a-a-a-a-a-alcohol. Alcohol actually interferes with folate absorption, and increases folate excretion through urine.

3. Disease

Some diseases can cause folate deficiencies. If you have liver disease, kidney dialysis, are taking medication for diabetes, or are frequently taking laxatives, you should to look into supplementing with folic acid.

Folic Acid In IdealLean Protein

Because most women need around 400 mcg of folic acid a day, (while pregnant women need more like 600mcg) and most women do not get enough folate through diet alone, we include Folic Acid in IdealLean Protein.

If you take IdealLean Protein before and after your workout, you will be getting around 400mcg of folic acid a day. This will help to keep your body functioning properly, helps your babies to be born healthy, and keeps your hair and skin up to goddess quality.

I mean c’mon, can diamonds do all that?

Try IdealLean Protein now and get the benefits associated with folic acid.  And get a better workout recovery and lean muscle growth, so that you can fuel your body right.



Alyson McDonald

Alyson McDonald

Writer and expert


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