What is Folate, and why do people take it as a supplement?

Folate, also known as vitamin B9, is a water-soluble vitamin that plays a critical role in many bodily functions. It is important for the production of red blood cells, DNA synthesis, and the proper functioning of the nervous system. Adequate intake of folate is also essential for pregnant women as it helps to prevent neural tube defects in the developing fetus.

Folate is found naturally in a variety of foods, including leafy green vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and legumes. It can also be found in fortified foods, such as cereals and breads. Some of the best sources of folate include:

  • Spinach
  • Asparagus
  • Beet greens
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Papaya
  • Orange juice
  • Black-eyed peas
  • Lentils
  • Sunflower seeds

Folate is also essential for the production of the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, which help to regulate mood, so it’s beneficial for mental health.

Folate plays a critical role in the production of red blood cells and the prevention of anemia. Anemia is a condition in which there are not enough red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body. Symptoms of anemia include fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath.

Folate also helps to reduce the risk of certain cancers, particularly colorectal cancer. Studies have shown that people who consume higher amounts of folate have a lower risk of developing colorectal cancer.

In addition, folate plays a role in the metabolism of homocysteine, an amino acid found in the blood. High levels of homocysteine are associated with an increased risk of heart disease, so getting enough folate can help to lower the risk of heart disease.

It’s important to note that too much intake of folic acid supplements can mask the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, so it’s best to consult a healthcare professional before taking any supplement. Consuming a balanced diet with a variety of fruits, vegetables, and fortified foods is the best way to get the recommended daily intake of folate.