It has become very clear that Vitamin B9 is a treasure trove of benefits for the human body and is a great source of improving overall health. Here are some of the health benefits of this vitamin further elaborated to properly assess its significance.
Amazing Health Benefits of Vitamin B9
Apart from causing heart attacks, homocysteine is also responsible for causing strokes, which are deadly events in the brain. Moreover, large amount of homocysteine in the body may also lead to weakening of bones, thus increasing the probability of frequent fractures. Vitamin B9, as mentioned before, helps in controlling the amount of this chemical in the body and reduces the fear of suffering a stroke.
Vitamin B9 is considered to be an essential component for reducing the occurrence of cancer in the human body. It helps eradicate the chances of cancer in various forms, including cervical cancer, colon cancer, and lung cancer. Thus, it is recommended by doctors to include this vitamin in sufficient amounts in your daily diet plan.
Pregnancy and Birth Defects:
Vitamin B9 is a reliable resource for limiting defects during pregnancy and the birth of a child. It is a common situation that pregnant women maintaining a diet deficient of this vitamin are far less likely to deliver a healthy child. The birth defects caused by its deficiency include neural tube defects. Thus, Vitamin B9 effectively improves the chances of giving birth to a healthy, happy child.
Vitamin B9 is considered to be a muscle building component, since it helps in the growth and maintenance of muscle tissues.
Vitamin B9 is an essential element in the formation of red blood cells. Also, this vitamin is a significant contributor for building and repairing skin cells in human body. The cells found in the small intestine lining are also fabricated from this vitamin. Vitamin B9 is also responsible for replacing old cells with new ones, keeping our body fresh and new.
Vitamin B9 is considered as a coenzyme, which effectively works in association with enzymes to perform the most desirable and important activities of the body, like the synthesis of DNA.
Vitamin B9 is responsible for improving the level of hemoglobin in human body. Hemoglobin is an essential component that helps in the transfer of oxygen to cells and organ systems that need it to function properly. This can boose energy levels and increase metabolic efficiency.
Mental and Emotional Disorders:
Vitamin B9 is helpful in treating various mental and emotional disorders. For instance, it is helpful in treating anxiety and depression, which are two of the most common mental health problems suffered by people in today’s modern world.
Vitamin B9, also called folate or folic acid, is one of 8 B vitamins. All B vitamins help the body convert food (carbohydrates) into fuel (glucose), which is used to produce energy. These B vitamins, often referred to as B complex vitamins, also help the body use fats and protein. B complex vitamins are needed for healthy skin, hair, eyes, and liver. They also help the nervous system function properly. Folic acid is the synthetic form of B9, found in supplements and fortified foods, while folate occurs naturally in foods.
1. Prevents serious birth defects in the fetus and new-born such as neural tube disorders and Spina Bifida.
2. Vitamin B9 helps in producing healthy red blood cells and shields the fetus and pregnant woman from anemia; especially Megaloblastic Anemia.
3. Folic acid helps in digestion and strengthening the nervous system, thus improving mental and emotional health. Vitamin B9 health benefits include its effectiveness in overcoming depression and anxiety.
4. Vitamin B9 is also important because it is a natural provider of strong immune power and enhances the body’s energy reservoir.
5. Vitamin B9, Folic acid lowers the risk of serious diseases like heart disease, stroke (reduces the production of homocysteine; the amino acid which is responsible for these diseases), ulcerative colitis, and lung cancer.
Protect Against Heart Disease
Adequate levels of vitamin B9, B6, and B12 have been shown to lower levels of a protein in the blood: homocysteine. Lower levels of homocysteine has been shown to improve endothelial function, which in turn may boost cardiovascular health and decrease risk of heart attacks.
Protect and Repair DNA to Reduce Cancer Risk and Slow Aging
Folate (Vitamin B9) is essential for the maintenance and repair of DNA which helps to prevent cancer. Several studies have associated diets low in folate with increased risk of breast, pancreatic, and colon cancer.6-8 Another study has found that absorption of vitamin b12 and folate is essential for DNA metabolism and maintenance which helps to prevent cancer and slow aging.9 Read full blog post here.
Decreased Risk of Alzheimer's Disease
Studies suggest that consuming adequate amounts of vitamin B9 (Folate) over a period of at least 10 years results in a decreased risk of contracting Alzheimer's Disease.10,11 People at Risk of a Folate (Vitamin B9) Deficiency.
Sources of Vitamin B9
While most pregnant mothers will receive folic acid through a supplement, individuals may also find vitamin B9 in a host of natural foods. Many experts recommend natural sources of vitamin B9 because it is easier for the body to absorb. Synthetic vitamins are more difficult to absorb.
Vitamin B9 is most commonly found in the following sources:
Leafy Green Vegetables
Dried or Fresh Beans
History of the Vitamin
Scientists, in the early 1900s, noticed that a deficiency of folate presented itself in the form of anemia.
Obese patients who consume folic acid may increase the presence of lipolysis in adipocytes. This process may prevent obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Folic acid may also play a role in lowering the accumulation of cholesterol in the liver and in the blood by increasing bile production.
Elevated homocysteine levels related to a folic acid deficiency may lead to osteoporosis, reduction in Bone Mass Density (BMD) and bone fractures. The results are not conclusive and more studies must be done to prove the findings conclusively.
Postmenopausal women who consume folic acid supplements may find relief from related symptoms, such as hot flashes. Folic acid is thought to interact with neurotransmitters in the brain, specifically norepinephrine and serotonin, to reduce the effects of hot flashes.
Folic acid deficiencies are linked to Plasmodium flaciparum malaria. This type of malaria is linked to anemia. Areas where malaria is endemic, such as Columbia, could benefit from folic acid consumption.
Some studies link folic acid to a reduction in depression. Studies are not conclusive. More data must be collected to prove this assumption.
In a study of over 800 people, scientists measured short term memory, mental agility and verbal fluency. During this study, scientists found improved concentration and memory in those individuals over the age of 50 who consumed 800 micrograms or more of folic acid daily. Folic acid is important for cells to divide. Cancer cells divide rapidly. Those who want to curb cancer growth should not consume high amounts of folic acid.
Vitamin B9 plays a significant role in the neural tube development of an unborn fetus. The neural tube forms during the first 4 to 6 weeks of pregnancy. Pregnant mothers are recommended to consume between 600 to 800 micrograms to avoid neural damage and birth defects.
Studies have shown that a diet consisting of 5 to 27 micrograms of folic acid per week will assist in the fight against rheumatoid arthritis.
Patients suffering from diabetes mellitus typically have lower levels of folic acid present in the blood. These individuals may also benefit from folic acid supplements or foods fortified with folic acid.
Folic acid may prove beneficial in fighting some cancers. Studies have shown benefits of folic acid in fighting colorectal cancers and breast cancers. The findings are inconclusive. More studies must be conducted to prove the findings conclusively.
Vitamin B9 is also beneficial in fighting certain heart disease. Folic acid has been known to lower homocysteine levels. Elevated homocysteine levels indicate low vitamin B9 levels. Elevated levels may encourage blood cells to stick together and form clots. A blocked artery may cause a heart attack or stroke.
Ailments from Vitamin B9 Deficiencies
Several problems may occur if the body does not receive the daily allowance of vitamin B9. Deficiencies in Vitamin B9 can lead to the following health problems:
Pregnant women who do not consume between 600 and 800 micrograms of folic acid per day put their unborn fetus at risk for improper development of the brain, skull, and spinal cord. Risk also increases for low infant birth rate, retardation of fetal growth, and pre-term delivery.
Additionally, when homocysteine levels rise in the blood due to low folate levels, pregnant women are more at risk for spontaneous abortion, placental abruption and preeclampsia. During the first four weeks of pregnancy, most women do not even realize that they are pregnant.
Patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease may benefit from a folic acid supplement. Studies have shown that folic acid lowers homocysteine levels. Elevated homocysteine levels contribute to bone loss and a host of other problems. Additionally, patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease may take a drug known as levodopa. Levodopa is a psychoactive drug taken to treat Parkinson’s disease. The drug may also decrease Bone Mass Density (BMD). Experts have cited improvements in femur bones and lumbar spine as a result of increased Vitamin B9 intake.
Folic acid supplements have been found to reduce the risk of developing renal diseases in children. Microalbuminuria is a common childhood renal disease associated with a folic acid deficiency.
Vitamin B9 is water soluble; therefore, the vitamin is regularly excreted from the body through urine. Some research also suggests that folic acid consumed in excess may also interfere with anti-malarial treatments.
Some individuals experience allergic reactions from folic acid intake. Individuals who are prone to allergic reactions should consult their physician prior to consuming folic acid.
Some of the symptoms may include the following:
Individuals who experience these symptoms should seek the guidance of a physician if the problems become severe.
Vitamin B9 (Folate) Deficiency
Despite food fortification, Vitamin B9 deficiencies are common. Higher intakes are required during periods of growth and are especially important for foetal growth. As a precaution, it is recommended for women of childbearing age to increase their Folate intake.
Alcohol and tobacco, digestive tract disorders, as well as various medications, including oral contraceptives, reduce Vitamin B9 absorption and increase the risk of a deficiency. A Vitamin B9 deficiency can also be mistaken for a Vitamin B12 deficiency.
Deficiency symptoms include:
reduced immune response
Vitamin B9 (Folate) Toxicity
Folate is not considered to be toxic and even high doses of Folic Acid are considered to be safe and non-toxic. However, high intakes of Folic Acid can make it difficult to detect a Vitamin B12 deficiency because Folic Acid also reduces Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms but without correcting the neurological damage that also occurs. This is why most Folic Acid products also contain Vitamin B12.
Adverse Effects may include:
shortness of breath
Foods high in Vitamin B9 (Folate)
Because Folate is heat and light sensitive, fruits and vegetables should not be stored at room temperature for long periods of time. Handling and processing of foods can also reduce its Folate content.
Dietary sources include:
green leafy vegetables
Vitamin B9 supplements and fortified foods, usually in the form of folic acid, cannot be absorbed by some people, and may hinder absorption of natural dietary B9 (folate). Be sure to check your blood levels of vitamin B9 after starting supplements to be sure they are right for you.
If you take folic acid (vitamin B9) suppliments beware the interaction with vitamin B12. Increased folic acid can cure the anemia associated with vitamin B12 deficiency, but cannot cure the neural damage. It is important to maintain both adequate levels of folic acid and vitamin B12.
Liver and shell fish (clams, mussels) are high cholesterol foods which should be eaten in moderate amounts and avoided by people at risk of heart disease or stroke.
Marmite is made from brewer's yeast, which is high in purines, and should be avoided by people with gout, kidney disease, or arthritis.