How Folic Acid Helps Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

Folic acid, which is also known as vitamin B9 or folate, acts in several ways in the prevention of type 2 diabetes. More specifically, vitamin B9 can prevent diabetes or improve its symptoms by:

  • Increasing lipolysis in adipocytes
  • Lowering homocysteine
  • Improving the endothelial function

All these actions are detailed below.

Folic Acid and Lipolysis

Vitamin B9 is able to prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes by accelerating the hydrolysis of fats in the cells of the adipose tissue. This is achieved by modifying the beta adrenoceptors from the adipose tissue found in the abdominal area. A daily intake of 71 mcg/kg is able to improve this process substantially. In addition, folate can decrease liver and blood cholesterol levels. Bile acid, which is produced in considerably lower amounts when taking vitamin B9, will incorporate the cholesterol previously found in liver and blood. Insulin levels and blood cholesterol levels are related, so lowering the latter can only be beneficial.

Folic Acid and Homocysteine

Homocysteine is an amino acid that can lead to many complications if you suffer from type 2 diabetes or are predisposed to this health condition. Therefore, it is best to lower homocysteine levels, and folic acid does this easily.  

Folic Acid and Endothelial Dysfunction

Folic acid promotes vasodilatation, so it plays an important role in improving the endothelial function. Endothelial dysfunction affects the inner lining of the blood vessels and can be easily characterized as a disproportion between the vasoconstricting and vasodilating substances. Endothelial dysfunction is observed in many patients with type 2 diabetes, so treating this pathological state may also help in the prevention.

Sources of Folic Acid

Diabetics are recommended to supplement their intake of vitamin B9. This can be done either by taking tablets or by consuming more foods rich in folic acid. Several such foods include:

  • Arugula
  • Asparagus
  • Avocado
  • Beet greens
  • Bok Choy
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Chard
  • Dandelion green
  • Escarole
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Kale
  • Lentils
  • Liver
  • Mache
  • Mustard greens
  • Oranges
  • Pinto beans
  • Radicchio
  • Spinach
  • Swiss chard
  • Turnip greens

Include as many of these foods in your diet so that type 2 diabetes prevention is achieved more easily.

Recommended Dosage

Keep in mind that exceeding 1,000 mcg a day, which is the recommended daily intake of folic acid, does not bring any additional therapeutic benefits. More than that, vitamin B9 can make methotrexate less effective, or even change its action. Methotrexate is used in chemotherapy as an anticancer drug. Folic acid can also reduce the absorption rate of the following:

  • Anticonvulsant drugs
  • Barbiturates
  • Estrogen
  • Sulfasalazine
  • Zinc

If you do not exceed the recommended daily intake of vitamin B9 and do not combine it with the aforementioned medication, you will be able to keep type 2 diabetes under control. Folic acid tablets offer a way to control the intake, but dietary folate is not available in very high amounts. This means that you can safely focus on the aforementioned foods as the main source of vitamin B9.


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