6 Folic Acid Benefits And Side Effects

There are so many pregnant women who take Folic Acid but do you know what is Folic Acid benefits and side effects?

The term folate is commonly used as a generic name for a group of compounds based on folic acid structure. It cannot be re-synthesized by the body and must be obtained through diet or supplementation.

What are the effects (benefits) and disadvantages (side effects) of folic acid?

Table of Contents

What is folic acid?

Folic acid is a type of vitamin B group, which is also a water-soluble vitamin. The origin of the term folic acid is the Latin folium, which means that the leaves are a nutrient molecule necessary for one-carbon metabolism, which is related to amino acid metabolism and methylation. Process, DNA and RNA synthesis, neurotransmitter synthesis, and gene expression are closely related.

Folic acid plays an important role in protein synthesis, metabolism, and other processes related to cell proliferation and tissue growth.

Folic acid deficiency is often associated with insufficient dietary intake, alcohol abuse and liver disease, malabsorption, increased pregnancy and lactation needs, and drug interference.

What is the difference between Folate and Folic acid?

Dietary folate is a natural nutrient found in green leafy vegetables, beans, egg yolks, liver, and citrus fruits.

Folic acid refers to synthetic dietary supplements, which are found in artificially added foods (such as flour and breakfast cereals) and medicinal vitamins.

Neither folate nor Folic acid has metabolic activity and must be converted to 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF) in the cell before it can be used by the body, and 5-MTHF is also called active folic acid

What are the concerns about supplementing Folic acid?

A folic acid is a form of general supplements, commonly found in multivitamins. After ingestion in the human body, it must undergo multiple steps of conversion to become useful active folate (5-MTHF), and studies have found that some people cause MTHFR due to genetic mutations. The enzyme activity becomes poor, so the conversion process is also less efficient.

When the above objects are supplemented in large amounts in the form of Folic acid, it will result in the accumulation of unmetabolized folic acid in the blood.

The literature also pointed out that unmetabolized folic acid may be associated with certain unhealthy health conditions, including weakened immunity, decreased brain function, and cancer.

Although the above argument still needs more research and verification, the best way to take folic acid before this is still obtained from natural foods. If there is really additional demand, you can choose to contain 5-MTHF (5-methyltetrahydrofolate) form of activity Folic acid supplements, in addition to the high rate of human use, can also avoid possible metabolic problems.

What are the benefits of folic acid?

1. Folic acid reduces the risk of premature delivery

Preterm birth is defined as being born within the 20th and 37th weeks of pregnancy. It is a major obstetric health care issue and an important factor in perinatal morbidity, mortality, and long-term disability.

It is estimated that about 15 million babies are born prematurely every year worldwide, causing 1 million of them to die.

Premature birth is considered to be a multifactorial syndrome. Nearly 70% of premature births are caused by natural delivery or rupture of the membranes, and the rest are caused by iatrogenic causes. Therefore, it can be broadly divided into spontaneous preterm birth (spontaneous Preterm birth) and indicative preterm birth.

A literature meta-analysis ( including 27 observational studies) pointed out that blood folic acid levels, folic acid supplementation, and dietary folic acid intake were negatively correlated with the risk of preterm birth (but between folic acid in the diet and the risk of natural preterm birth No obvious connection).

*Conclusion: Folic acid supplementation during pregnancy is significantly associated with a lower risk of preterm delivery and higher maternal folate levels

2. Folic acid reduces the incidence of stroke

Stroke can be divided into hemorrhage or occlusive/ischemic stroke, and most (80%) belong to the latter. In terms of mortality, stroke is the fourth largest after heart disease, cancer, and chronic lower respiratory diseases The cause of death is also the biggest cause of disability. About 50% of survivors are disabled for life.

Risk factors related to stroke include a history of hypertension, smoking history, diabetes, waist-to-hip ratio, diet risk score, lack of exercise, alcohol consumption, psychosocial stress and depression, cardiac causes, and the ratio of apolipoprotein B to A1.

A systematic literature review and meta-analysis (including 12 randomized controlled trials with a total of 47523 patients with cardiovascular disease) pointed out that folic acid treatment significantly reduced the risk of stroke (especially compared with patients receiving controlled treatment). The daily dose is <2 mg, and the follow-up period is ≥ 40 months, the most significant subjects.

In addition, there was no significant difference in all-cause mortality, cardiovascular mortality, and coronary heart disease risk between the two groups.

*Conclusion: For patients with cardiovascular disease, oral folic acid can help reduce the risk of stroke, but more large-scale and accurate experiments are still needed to prove it.

3. Folic acid prevents neural tube defects

Neural tube defects (NTDs) are congenital malformations of the brain and spinal cord caused by the failure of the neural tube to shut down within 21-28 days of pregnancy. It is the second most common birth defect. About 0.5 to 2 cases were affected.

The most common types of neural tube defects are spina bifida and anencephaly. Spina bifida is due to posterior (caudal) neural tube fusion failure, while anencephaly is due to anterior (cranial) neural tube fusion failure.

Congenital brainless malformations are fatal, and many children with brainless children are stillborn or die shortly after birth. A spina bifida is highly likely to survive a physical and intellectual disability, and only a few of these children are able to live independently in adulthood.

A Cochrane Review (including 4 studies, a total of 6425 female participants) pointed out that supplementation of folic acid from preconception to early pregnancy (Periconceptional) can reduce the incidence of neural tube defects by 72%.

*Conclusion: Folic acid supplementation from before to early pregnancy is helpful to prevent neural tube defects.

4. Folic acid reduces pregnancy-induced hypertension disease events

Hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, including preeclampsia and gestational hypertension, are the most common complications during pregnancy and are related to the adverse health outcomes of mothers and their children.

Preeclampsia is diagnosed with new blood pressure and proteinuria after 20 weeks of pregnancy, which is an important cause of fetal death, premature delivery, and intrauterine growth restriction.

Hypertension during pregnancy refers to a new increase in blood pressure without proteinuria after 20 weeks of pregnancy. This condition is found in 6% to 17% of pregnancies and is related to premature delivery and babies less than gestational age.

A meta-analysis of literature (including 13 queuing studies and 1 randomized controlled trial, more than 300,000 female participants) pointed out that the risk of pregnancy-induced hypertension is not related to folic acid supplementation during pregnancy. However, folic acid supplementation during pregnancy can significantly reduce the risk of preeclampsia.

In addition, the results of the subgroup analysis indicated that the reduction in preeclampsia risk is related to the supplementation of folic acid-containing multivitamins (folic acid supplementation alone is not related).

*Conclusion: Supplementation of folic acid-containing multivitamins during pregnancy may help reduce the risk of preeclampsia, but due to the high heterogeneity between studies, more randomized controlled trials are still needed to corroborate.

5. Folic acid reduces the risk of congenital heart disease

Congenital heart disease is the most common type of congenital malformation, which is mainly defined as a large number of structural and functional defects that occur during the embryogenesis of the heart, accounting for one-third of all major congenital malformations.

Each year, 1.35 million babies are born with congenital heart disease each year and are considered to be the substantial cause of early fetal death.

The causes are usually divided into two categories: genetic and non-genetic. Non-genetic causes include environmental teratogens (dioxins, PCBs, insecticides), maternal exposure (alcohol, isotretinoin, thalidomide, antiepileptic drugs), and infectious pathogens.

A Meta-Analysis (20 case-control studies) pointed out that in Chinese and European patients, folic acid supplementation during pregnancy is a protective factor against congenital heart defects, which can reduce congenital heart defects by about 40% Risk, and no association is found in the United States.

*Conclusion: Observation objects in China and Europe found that supplementation with folic acid during pregnancy can significantly reduce the risk of neonatal congenital heart defects.

6. Folic acid reduces cleft lip and palate events

Cleft lip and palate (oral clefts) is a congenital variant of congenital cleft lip caused by abnormal facial development during pregnancy, including cleft lip only, cleft lip with palate and cleft palate only are babies born The most common congenital malformations in the mouth and face account for 65% of all head and neck malformations and are usually non-fatal.

It is estimated that in different populations around the world, cleft lip occurs in about 1/700 to 1/1000 live births, and there is great variability depending on geographical origin, ethnicity, and socioeconomic conditions.

About 70% of cases of the cleft lip are nonsyndromic, that is, the patient has no other physiological or developmental abnormalities.

When cleft lip and palate occur, it has a great impact on infant feeding, speech, language and speech formation, breathing, oral function, occlusion, tooth formation, and other functions.

A meta-analysis of literature (including 6 queue studies and 31 case-control studies) pointed out that maternal folic acid supplementation can reduce the risk of all types of cleft lip and palate.

Further Subgroup Analysis found:

Folic acid supplementation alone can reduce the risk of non-syndromic cleft lip and palate by 27% and the risk of single cleft palate by 25% (cleft palate only).

The supplementation of folic acid-containing comprehensive vitamins reduces the risk of non-syndromic cleft lip and palate by 35% and the risk of cleft palate only by 31%.

The timing of use is most protective from before pregnancy to the first 3 months of pregnancy (compared to those not ingested).

*Conclusion: Continuous supplementation of folic acid (or folic acid-containing vitamins) from before pregnancy to 3 months after pregnancy can help reduce cleft lip and palate

7. Folic acid benefits type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a major non-communicable disease. The cause of the disease is related to the body’s inability to produce enough insulin or the inability to use the produced insulin and severely affects blood glucose metabolism.

It is predicted that in the next 20 years, T2DM patients will increase by multiples (from the current 190 million to 325 million), and more than 70% of patients will appear in developing countries, most of whom are between 45-64 years old.

A literature meta-analysis (meta-analysis contains 18 randomized controlled trials with a total of 21,081 participants) pointed out that folic acid supplementation (with or without other B group vitamins) can help reduce fasting glucose and insulin resistance index ( homeostatic model assessment-insulin resistance) and insulin, but no significant effect on glycated hemoglobin and diabetes events.

The underlying mechanism may be related to folic acid reducing homocysteine, reducing oxidative stress, and improving endothelial cell function.

*Conclusion: Folic acid supplementation has potential positive benefits for improving insulin resistance and glycemic control but is limited by heterogeneity and possible bias, and it still needs to be supported by long-term large-scale tests.

Pregnancy/pregnancy folic acid dosage?

According to the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all women planning to become pregnant or of childbearing age should consume 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid per day to obtain enough folic acid to help prevent certain birth defects of newborns.

This is because about half of the pregnancies are outside the plan, and the major birth defects of the baby’s brain or spine appear early in pregnancy (after 3-4 weeks of pregnancy), usually before you realize you are pregnant.

If you have the following conditions, it is generally recommended to use a dose higher than 400 micrograms (mcg) during pregnancy or pregnancy preparation. Consult your doctor for the exact dose to ensure safety.

  • The mother or child’s biological father has a neural tube defect
  • Have a history of pregnancy with neural tube defects
  • You or your child’s biological father have a family history of neural tube defects
  • Suffering from diabetes
  • Taking medications such as epilepsy, type 2 diabetes, lupus, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma or inflammatory bowel disease
  • Have kidney disease and need dialysis
  • Has sickle cell disease (sickle cell disease, a genetic disease, also known as sickle type anemia)
  • Diseases of abnormal liver function
  • Drink more than one alcoholic beverage every day

What are the side effects of folic acid?

Excessive intake of folic acid from food has no adverse effects, but it should be noted that after additional supplements, most adults take less than 1000 micrograms (mcg) per day, there are few side effects.

However, long-term high-dose folic acid may cause abdominal cramps, bitter mouth, diarrhea, rash, sleep disturbance, irritability, confusion, nausea, stomach upset, loss of appetite, difficulty concentrating, skin reactions, epilepsy, exhaustion, excitement Wait.

Safety Precautions

1. Be careful of any abnormal allergic reactions to food or medicine. Allergic reactions may occur. Symptoms include rash, itching, redness, and difficulty breathing.

2. It is safe to take folic acid by mouth during pregnancy and lactation. The dosage is about 300 to 400 mcg per day.

3. Excessive serum folate levels are associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer.

4. Taking folic acid supplements may worsen seizures, especially at high doses.

5. Those who have undergone coronary angioplasty should be used with caution. Early studies have shown that taking folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 in related patients after surgery may increase the risk of stent restenosis and increase target vessel reconstruction.

6. Do not use in combination with anticonvulsants. Folic acid can increase the speed of the body’s decomposition of this drug, thus reducing the effectiveness of the drug. The names of the related drugs are Fosphenytoin, phenytoin, primidone.

7. Do not use in combination with the anti-cancer drug Methotrexate, because the drug is a folic acid antagonist, so the combined use may reduce the effectiveness of the drug.

8. Do not use with central nervous system inhibitors: Barbiturates drugs may reduce the efficacy of drugs.

9. Do not use in combination with the antimalarial agent Pyrimethamine, which may reduce the effectiveness of the drug.

Where can I buy folic acid supplements for pregnant women?

In recent years, food safety problems in various countries have exploded, and it is not healthy but black-hearted products that everyone spends on. Therefore, European and American products with relatively strict quality control have become popular products.

And iHerb.com is a large-scale medical cosmetics e-commerce company in the United States. It has a high satisfaction rate of 97% in the evaluation of Google customers. It provides global home delivery so that you can buy it without risking buying fakes through purchasing high-quality health products.

Folic Acid

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