acid, also called folate or folacin, is a B vitamin with a solid reputation
for protecting against birth defects and heart disease. If adults were
to get an adequate amount of this vitamin, it is estimated that 50,000
deaths from cardiovascular disease could be prevented each year in the
United States alone. Moreover, common birth defects could be cut nearly
in half. Other ailments, such as depression, Alzheimer's disease, and
certain types of cancer may respond to the effects of folic acid as well.
acid may help to:
- Improve fertility and prevent neurological birth defects. Taken
as part of a B-complex vitamin that contains biotin and vitamin B12, folic
acid can strengthen the reproductive system in women having trouble conceiving.
Folic acid also ensures normal cell replication and contributes to the
formation of DNA and RNA, making it essential for healthy fetal development.
If a woman is taking adequate amounts of folic acid at the time she conceives,
and during the first three months of pregnancy, the risk of giving birth
to a baby with spina bifida or certain other serious birth defects can
be decreased by nearly 50%.
Lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. Folic acid appears to
regulate the body's production and use of homocysteine, an amino acid-like
compound that in excess amounts can contribute to the buildup of dangerous
plaque in the blood vessels (a precursor of heart disease and stroke).
In addition, a small Dutch study has recently shown that by lowering blood
levels of homocysteine and improving the ability of the blood vessels
to dilate, folic acid may reduce cardiovascular risk in those with a family
history of high cholesterol.