Folic acid is an essential B vitamin needed for cell reproduction and growth. It is needed for the building blocks of your DNA, and a deficiency of folic acid may lead to the risk of certain cancers if the DNA is damaged.
Pre-cancerous polyps in the colon have been associated with low levels of folic acid. Studies have shown that folic acid may be helpful in the prevention of colon cancer. There has also been an increased incidence of cancer in people who suffer from ulcerative colitis due to a lower than normal level of folic acid. Colorectal cancer is another cancer that is often associated with low folic acid levels. Lung cancer, cervical cancer and esophageal cancer are being studied regarding their relation to lower levels of this B vitamin.
Often times, too much folic acid is also not good. For example, a man who takes supplements of this vitamin increases his risk of getting prostate cancer and is twice as likely to get it over someone who does not take folic acid supplements. Many benefits have been proven, but not without certain risks for some people. It is wise to talk to your doctor if you have concerns as to whether or not you are getting enough or too much folic acid.
Folic acid is essential for a woman who is pregnant. The baby needs this nutrient to grow and develop properly. Women must take supplements to keep the baby and themselves healthy. A deficiency of folic acid can easily lead to a person becoming anemic and is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the US today. Most of the folic acid we need can be obtained through the food we eat. Unless you are very anemic, there is no need to supplement your diet, unless of course you are an expecting mother.
Get all the folic acid that you need by eating plenty of leafy green vegetables. Eat whole wheat breads and grains. Nuts and seeds are an excellent source, as are oranges and grapefruits. Liver and other organ meats contain all the folic acid you need for one day. Beans, peas and breakfast cereals are good sources, also. If you fill your plate with plenty of these foods, there will be no need for you to take a folic acid supplement. Adults over 19 years of age need 400 mcg daily. You can get half that allowance just by drinking a glass of orange juice each morning, so it is not hard to get the recommended daily dose if you eat right. Instead of junk food for a snack, toss back a handful of peanuts or nibble on sunflower or pumpkin seeds. Both are good for you and, of course, have lots of folic acid.