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Folic Acid Supplements Really Are Worth Taking

posted on 10 January 2005 | posted in Health Articles

Folic Acid Supplements Really Are Worth Taking Says Dr. Thomas Stuttaford in the Sunday Times Health section.

For a generation the medical establishment has rubbished the idea that a well balanced diet could benefit from supplementing with vitamins and minerals. He points out that experts were certainly undermined by evidence that supplements containing the all-important vitamin folic acid greatly reduces the incidence of:

  • Various foetal abnormalities - including those affecting the spine and brain. This would help if pregnant mums took folic acid in early weeks of pregnancy. This research led to more research as to the benefits of folic acid in other areas.

  • Research now shows that supplementing the diet with folic acid cuts the risk of death from heart disease and strokes. Folic acid, together with other vitamins in the B group, reduces levels of homocysteine - a substance that is a by-product that occurs naturally in the body. High levels are known to cause inflamation of the arteries and subsequently atherosclerosis. High levels of homocysteine in the body are thought to rank as a higher risk than elevated cholesterol leves

  • There are some encouraging reports about the effect of folic acid deficiency on the development of Alzheimer's disease. Again, there is an implication that high levels of homocysteine in the body can cause inflammation of the brain and subsequent damage. Folic acid and the B vitamins are co-factors that the body uses to metabolise homocysteine in to substances that are no longer harmful in the body.

  • The New England Medical Journal of Medicine cites research that taking folic acid and other B vitamins regularly reduces the risk of bone fractures in older people. The interesting thing is with the findings of this research that even though the individual's bone density was not significantly different, it was thought that it may be due to the reduced rate of falls. It could be speculated that this may be due to the better circulation to the brain and centres of balance due to lower levels of homocysteine. In one study conducted at the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam almost 2,500 men and women over the age of 55 were studied over 5 years. Those who had high levels of homocysteine were twice as likely to suffer a fracture.

    Like all of the B vitamins, folic acid is water soluble, so the body doesn't store it easily. Therefore, to ensure that you get enough in your diet, it is important to eat large amounts of raw green leafy vegetables, peas and beans and other legumes, whole wheat, oranges, bananas, eggs and brown rice. Remeber though - alcohol reduces folic acid levels in the blood, so if you drink regularly it's hard not be be deficient in it. Since it's not always easy to eat large quantities of folic acid rich foods a day, a supplement is a good idea.

    Dr. Stuttaford says that all men over 45 and women over 55, age where coronary heart disease could become a problem should consider taking folic acid in a supplement. He says that those at a risk of Osteoporosis and Alzheimer's should seriously consider taking additional folic acid every day.

    As well as eating the foods listed above, we advise in our clinic that people consider taking one of the following supplements. All of them contain folic acid as well as other important nutrients. Click on the link to find out more about the supplement and how to purchase it. There are a variety of supplements that contain folic acid. Choose one that fits your own particular needs.

    Super Supplemental Vitamins and Minerals(Tablet)
    Multiple Vitamin/Mineral
    Folic Acid Plus
    Nature`s Prenatal
    Herbasaurs Chewable Vitamins for children
    Herbasaurs Liquid Multi Vits + Iron for children(120ml)
    Target Endurance

    References: Folic Support, Dr. Thomas Stuttaford The Times 'Health' 13th September 2004