Daily Dose of Folic Acid: 400mcg
Folic acid is a water soluble B vitamin also called folate. It has many health benefits in a variety of areas, especially for treating and preventing low levels of folic acid in the blood as well as preventing birth defects in women. Although the recommended dosage is 400mcg, many doctors urge women who are able to get pregnant to take a higher dose, even if they aren’t planning to get pregnant yet. Most women are not aware of their pregnancy until 3-4 weeks into it, which is why it is important to start taking supplements before conception. The early stages of pregnancy are the most critical when the baby’s brain and spinal cord are developing. Taking folic acid after discovering the pregnancy is not a bad idea but it is not as effective as taking it sooner. Women who do not take folic acid before and during pregnancy have a higher chance of having a child born with neural tube defects or a cleft lip.
Research has shown that folic acid has a role in treating and preventing other health problems. These include lowering homocysteine levels in people with kidney disease and in people who have high amounts of homocysteine in their blood. High levels of homocysteine have been linked to heart disease and stroke. Getting enough folate in the diet can also reduce the chances of developing colon cancer but it doesn’t seem to be helpful for people who already have colon cancer.
There is a slight difference between folic acid and folate. Folate is the natural form of this vitamin and can be found in food. Folic acid on the other hand is the man made form and what is put into vitamin pills and fortified foods, like cereal, which contains 100% of the daily requirement. Surprisingly, our bodies can absorb folic acid easier than they can absorb folate. This is because folate still needs to break down before it can be absorbed. We can get folate naturally from spinach, liver, and kidney beans. The average adult needs 400mcg daily, and women who are pregnant or are able to get pregnant are recommended to take doses up to 800mcg.
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