If you’ve never been pregnant or anemic, the words folate or folic acid might not mean much to you. Yet, folic acid benefits extend so far past supporting healthy fetus development and increasing your red blood cell count that everyone can reap wellness perks by getting to know them better. Both are “forms of B-vitamins,” explains Jaimie Bailey, a nutritionist at NAO Nutrition. “Folate is naturally occurring in food, and folic acid is the synthetic version.”
Because it’s water soluble, however, your body doesn’t store the nutrient. So you have to replenish it in your system on the reg. You can get a natural folate fix from plenty of plants like peas, lentils, oranges, whole wheat, asparagus, beets, and other leafy greens. And nutritionists recommend sourcing the nutrient from your food as much as possible because it converts to vitamin B9 faster. Depending on your diet, however, it might be necessary to increase your intake with a folic acid supplement so that you don’t develop a deficiency, which can make you feel even more exhausted because it causes fatigue plus, irritability, weakness, pale skin, and shortness of breath.
Before introducing a folic acid supplement into your regimen, though, first consult your doctor and heed Bailey’s nutrition advice: “Too much folic acid taken orally can cause certain discomforts, such as rash, diarrhea, or cramps.” So, whether you’re already taking a supplement or interested in doing so to reap the folic acid benefits below, make sure you’re monitoring your intake as the recommended amount is 300–400mcg a day. Below are four important folic acid benefits every woman can reap—whether or not she’s pregnant.
1. Lowers risk of heart diseases and strokes
A 2016 study analyzed a number of randomized control trials and found that folic acid supplements were associated with a 10 percent decrease in strokes and 4 percent decreases in cardiovascular diseases.
2. Can prevent age-related hearing loss
Folic acid may help counteract hearing loss associated with aging, a 2014 study found while working with female mice. Human studies on genetic diseases have also shown a potential connection between folate deficiency and hearing loss, though further studies are needed to better understand how and why the two are linked.
3. Helps treat gum Disease
Studies dating as far back as 1984 were able to find evidence that folic acid or folate used orally have a measurable effect on reducing gingivitis.
4. Supports healthy hair grow
Folate or folic acid helps your body build healthy cells and tissue. So, if you’re trying to grow out your hair, getting adequate amounts of the B vitamin should be part of a holistic plan of action.
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