Folate, or vitamin B9 is one of the crucial vitamins we do not necessarily hear much about unless we are a pregnant mother. But aside from it’s importance during and before pregnancy it also has these benefits.
1. Supports Heart Health
When your folate levels are high it lowers your homocysteine levels. Homocysteine is an amino acid that can cause blood clots to form and causes hardening of the arteries, two of the primary issues with those that suffer from heart disease.
Since heart disease accounts for nearly 1/3 of all deaths around the world (an estimated 92.1 million Americans) increasing your folate intake may help with this devastating issue. The heart health benefit you get from folate could help reduce the risk of heart disease.
2. Improves Cognitive Function
Folate (and B12) are huge brain health vitamins from before birth all through our lives. A low level of folate and the other B vitamins have been linked to cognitive decline, dementia and Alzheimer’s. Studies done on elderly patients by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition discovered this link between low folate levels and cognitive decline.
According to a 2016 study it was found that folic acid supplementation was able to improve cognitive function in older adults that had preexisting mild cognitive impairment. Another study in 2005 found higher levels of folate were associated with a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
3. Reduces Restless Legs Syndrome Symptoms
Have you ever experienced restless leg syndrome? The feeling that you have to constantly bounce, jiggle, or move your legs, especially at night.
Anyone can experience restless legs syndrome, but pregnant women are especially prone to it. It turns out studies have shown that low levels of folate might just be associated with an increased chance of restless leg syndrome – particularly in pregnant women.
Restless legs syndrome symptoms may be lessened or eliminated by taking methylated folic acid. (Alternative Medicine Review finding).
4. May Decrease Cancer Risk
Cancer study and research is always ongoing as it is a devastating cause of pain and suffering around the world.
Some of that research has to do with folate’s role in caner prevention. It turns out there is some evidence that shows folate could aide in the prevention of some types of cancer.
A recent review published by the Department of Medicine at St. Michael’s Hospital, showed that individuals with adequate folate levels or those that increased folate intake from food and supplementation could be able to reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer and breast cancer.
Folate intake is also associated with a lower risk of colorectal, esophageal and ovarian cancers according to other research studies.
On the flip side studies have also found that too much folic acid from supplements and fortified foods might actually lead to an increased chance of certain cancers.
5. Builds Strong Bones
Homocysteine levels effect not only the heart but our very skeletal structure. Elevated homocysteine levels seems to impact bone health as well.
In the same way that folic acid decreases homocysteine levels to help heart health, it can also impact the rate of bone metabolism to promote better bone health.
A 2014 study showed those with low folate levels had increased plasma homocysteine as well as reduced bone density. In conjunction another study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that older adults with higher levels of homocysteine were a risk factor for osteoporotic fractures.