4 ways in which folate plays a crucial role in the daily functioning of our body

While folate is the natural form of vitamin B9 found in various foods, folic acid is its synthetic version, often used in supplements or fortified foods
Image Credits: Pexels
Image Credits: Pexels

As we dive into the journey of wellness, it’s often the unsung heroes that take the spotlight. One such hero, tucked away in food, is folate or vitamin B9. Folate plays a crucial role in our daily functioning and during pregnancy, its importance amplifies significantly as it is vital for the development of the foetus and the maintenance of the mother’s haemoglobin levels.

While folate is the natural form of vitamin B9 found in various foods, folic acid is its synthetic version, often used in supplements or fortified foods. Although both aim to fulfill the body’s folate requirements, some argue that synthetic folic acid might not be as efficiently absorbed as natural folate. Hence, opting for a diet rich in folate might be more beneficial in the long run. Several foods are packed with folate. These include spinach, avocadoes, green peas, organ meats, black-eyed peas, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, lettuce, broccoli, mustard greens, tomatoes, oranges, peanuts, grapefruit, papaya, bananas and eggs with yolks. However, it's important to choose organic, pesticide-free options as the quality of the produce can significantly affect folate absorption.

As we know there are different functions of different minerals and vitamins in the body and folate is not different from that; it is a multi-tasker, involved in various functions essential for our well-being. Here’s a quick lowdown of its primary roles:

 Red blood cell production: Folate plays a pivotal role in creating red blood cells, the carriers of oxygen to all body tissues. A deficiency can result in anae- mia, which is marked by symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, and pale skin.

 Neurological health: Folate deficiency has been linked to cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases. Folate also plays a role in synthesising neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers in the brain, which are crucial for mood regulation, concentration and memory. Thus, adequate folate levels are vital for maintaining cognitive function and preventing neurodegenerative diseases.

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 Homocysteine regulation: High homocysteine levels can increase the risk of heart disease. Folate, along with vitamin B12, helps convert homocysteine into methionine, a benign amino acid, hence maintaining healthy homocysteine levels.

 Oral health: Folate plays a vital role in maintaining oral health, and its deficiency can lead to uncomfortable oral issues like canker sores or ulcers. By ensuring enough folate through a balanced diet or supplements, you can support healthy gums and teeth.

Due to various reasons, the absorption of folic acid is affected which can lead to deficiency and other issues. Some individuals have a genetic variation in the MTHFR gene, affecting their ability to convert synthetic folic acid into its active form. For these individuals, methylated forms of folic acid are often recommended. People with conditions like Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) might have impaired folate absorption due to compromised gut health. This can lead to deficiencies and associated symptoms. Excessive alcohol consumption, smoking and activities like vaping and smoking shisha can deplete folate levels in the body. People engaging in these habits need to be particularly vigilant about their folate intake.

Folate is often overlooked but plays an indispensable role in our overall well-being. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any supplement regimen. Remember, even though folate might be a quiet champion, its impact on our health is anything but silent.

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