5 reasons to eat foods rich in folate

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  • Vitamin B9, or folate, is essential for the body. Promotes healthy growth and development.
  • It is present in many foods but its deficiency is common, so supplementation is recommended in early pregnancy.
  • The foods that contain the most are legumes and green leafy vegetables.

Vitamin B9, or folate, is an essential vitamin for the body because it allows it to form DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and red blood cells, which are the building blocks of the body. This nutrient is especially important for pregnant women because its fairly common deficiency can lead to serious complications such as congenital malformations and anemia. Therefore, health professionals almost always recommend folic acid supplementation in early pregnancy. “It is essential for pregnant women to take folic acid supplements to support the healthy growth and development of the fetus,” explains dietician Julia Zumpano, in a Mayo Clinic publication. “When you’re trying to conceive or are pregnant, it’s extremely difficult to get the amount of vitamin B9 you need”, he adds.

Folate vs Folic Acid: What’s the Difference?

Vitamin B9 is one of eight B vitamins that help the body convert carbohydrates from food into glucose for the energy it needs to live. This nutrient is essential for good liver, skin, hair, eye health and proper functioning of the nervous system. There are three main forms of vitamin B9:

  1. folate: occurs naturally in foods and refers to all forms of vitamin B9, including folic acid;
  2. synthetic folic acid B9 found in supplements and fortified foods that must be processed by the body to be used;
  3. Methylfolate (5-MTHF): This is a natural form of vitamin B9 supplement that is easier to digest than folic acid and the body can use it right away.

Since this vitamin is water soluble, it breaks down very quickly and any excess is then excreted in the urine. However, this is not the case with synthetic folic acid found in supplements and fortified foods.

Heart disease, liver disease… the benefits of vitamin B9

The specialist also explains that several studies report many benefits of vitamin B9, and in particular for:

  1. promote heart health: “Healthcare professionals can prescribe B9 to reduce high blood levels of homocysteine, a chemical that makes proteins (amino acids) that can harden arteries”, advances the dietitian;
  2. Improves cognition: Taking folic acid might improve memory and thinking skills in older people who are experiencing faster-than-normal decline. An April 2021 study also suggested a possible link between folate deficiency and increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease;
  3. prevent nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: A recent study found that eating foods containing vitamin B12 and folic acid slowed disease progression and reversed liver fibrosis (thickened scar tissue) and swelling (inflammation);
  4. reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD): A large study published last year revealed that women who took daily supplements of folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12 had a reduced risk of developing this eye disease;
  5. Prevent age-related hearing loss: This study suggests folic acid supplements may help slow it down in older people with low folate diets and high homocysteine ​​levels (this amino acid is used as a marker in anti-folate medicine). aging).

Vitamin B9: in which foods do we find the most?

A wide variety of foods naturally contain folate, but those that contain the most are: legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc.), dark green leafy vegetables (such as spinach, asparagus, brussels and beets), and animal livers .

ANSES (National Agency for Health and Food Safety) estimates the average nutritional requirement of B9 based on the age of the population. This ranges from 90 mcg/day for children 1-3 years old to 250 mcg/day for women and men over 15 years old.








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