The Benefits of Folic Acid (Folate)

Folic Acid Supplements Cut Stroke Risk. ‘Folic acid supplementation may reduce the risk of stroke by 18 percent or more, but it’s not clear whether it boosts outcomes for other cardiovascular conditions, researchers say. A study published last year in the journal Circulation found that there was a significant drop in stroke death rates in Canada and the United States after both countries mandated folic acid fortification of cereals and breads in 1998.
For the new research, a U.S. team reviewed eight studies of folic acid supplementation, which lowers concentrations of homocysteine in the blood. High homocysteine levels are believed to increase the risk of stroke, cardiovascular disease, and deep vein thrombosis. Professor Xiaobin Wang, of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, and colleagues found that folic acid supplementation reduced the risk of stroke by an average of 18 percent.’

Folic Acid Supplementation Slows Cognitive Decline
. ‘Research highlighted this month in Nature Clinical Practice Endocrinology & Metabolism shows that low folic acid concentration in serum is a possible risk factor for age-related cognitive decline. Folic acid supplementation is associated with a decrease in concentrations of plasma homocysteine, an amino acid, which causes the degeneration of the memory and information-processing speed domains of the brain.
The original placebo-controlled study, published in The Lancet measured the mental function of 818 adults, aged between 50-70 years, before starting supplementation and again after three years. Serum folate concentrations increased by 576% and plasma total homocysteine concentrations decreased by 26% in participants with a dietary folic acid intake of 800 micrograms. People taking folic acid supplements over three years showed a significantly better result in information processing speed and sensorimotor speed than in the placebo group.’

Experts back folic acid in bread. ‘Moves to fortify bread with folic acid have been welcomed by health groups. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) will recommend the measure to health ministers as a means of reducing birth defects. Its board unanimously backed the compulsory addition of the synthetic form of the B vitamin folate to bread or flour.’

MedlinePlus – Folic Acid
. Also called: Folacin, Folate, Pteroylglutamic acid or Vitamin B9.
Folic acid is a B vitamin. It helps the body make healthy new cells. Everyone needs folic acid. For women who may get pregnant, it is really important. When a woman has enough folic acid in her body before and during pregnancy, it can prevent major birth defects of her baby’s brain or spine.
Foods with folic acid in them include leafy green vegetables, fruits, dried beans, peas and nuts. Enriched breads, cereals and other grain products also contain folic acid. If you don’t get enough folic acid from the foods you eat, you can also take it as a dietary supplement.

Linus Pauling Micronutrient Information Center: Folic Acid. ‘The terms folic acid and folate are often used interchangeably for this water-soluble B-complex vitamin. Folic acid, the most stable form, occurs rarely in foods or the human body, but is the form most often used in vitamin supplements and fortified foods. Naturally occurring folates exist in many chemical forms. Folates are found in foods as well as in metabolically active forms, in the human body.’

EUFIC: What you need to know about folate. Folate is part of the family of B vitamins and must be consumed daily. Ongoing debate over whether or not to fortify staple foods with folic acid, has led researchers to investigate other strategies for improving the folate status of Europeans.

Folic Acid Now – National Council on Folic Acid.


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