What is the function of folic acid? Does folic acid (folate) help you lose weight? Although everyone needs folic acid, it is more crucial for women, before and during pregnancy. This article describes significance of this essential element in diet, while providing answers to the above questions. Read on to know the functions of folate.
Vitamin B9 is known as folic acid. It is also referred to as vitamin Bc or folacin. Naturally occurring form of folic acid is known as folate. Folic acid, the synthetic form of folate, is available in the form of supplements. Vitamin B9 is a water-soluble vitamin, which plays an important role in various metabolic functions of the body. Presence of sufficient folic acid in the body of a woman before and during pregnancy helps prevent birth defects in infants, especially brain and spine defects. It plays an important role in rapid cell division and growth. But does folic acid help you lose weight? To find out the answer, let us take a look at the important health benefits of folic acid.
Folic Acid Functions
Along with vitamin B12 and vitamin C, folic acid helps break down, absorb, and create new proteins in the body.
It promotes development of red blood cells, and it is required for DNA synthesis and repair.
It enhances the functioning of body cells and promotes growth of tissues.
It plays an important role in the development of the neural tube during pregnancy, and prevents birth defects in infants.
It helps stabilize blood pressure, and thus helps prevent strokes.
It helps lower the level of the amino acid, homocysteine, which in turn helps prevent heart diseases.
It promotes smooth skin and strong hair.
It lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, as it helps retain your memory and mental agility.
It prevents certain types of cancers and macular degeneration.
It improves fertility and increases the supply of breast milk.
It reduces the signs of aging, and also prevents age related disorders like hearing loss, osteoporosis, nerve pain, sleep problems, etc
. Along with other B vitamins, it is used to treat depression.
Now that you know about the functions of folic acid, you must be eager to know which are the folic acid rich foods. Here is a small list for you.
Foods Rich in Folic Acid
Leafy vegetables like spinach, broccoli, collard greens, turnip greens, lettuce, asparagus, fenugreek, corn, millet, finger millet, dates, almonds, raisins, figs, kale cabbage, okra, potatoes, fruits like bananas, melons, lemons, grapes, fresh green beans, peas, black-eyed peas, lentils, chickpeas, sunflower seeds, yeast, mushrooms, fish, poultry, clams, oysters, beef liver and kidney, pineapple juice, orange juice, tomato juice, whole wheat pasta, etc., are some examples of foods rich in folic acid. Most of these foods are rich in iron too. These days, cold cereals, various types of flours, breads, pasta, baked items, cookies, and crackers fortified with folic acid, are available in the market. Now let us turn to the main query.
Does Folic Acid Help You Lose Weight?
To achieve the desired weight loss with the help of a balanced diet is not an easy thing for obese or overweight people. The human body tends to store fat for future use. Where, how, and how much fat will be stored, is usually determined by the genetic factors. It also depends upon the diet and lifestyle of the person. We can not exclude fats from our diet as we need them for bodily functions. Consumption of all types of fats in the right proportion, incorporation of balanced amounts of all essential elements in the diet, healthy eating habits, and regular exercises, help you stay in the range of normal weight for your height.
Whether you would be able to lose weight easily depends upon your genetic disposition. Some people gain weight quickly, and despite all types of efforts, they never succeed in losing weight. Gene polymorphism is held responsible for this. The person is likely to suffer from a deficiency of B complex vitamins if the body is unable to convert folic acid into dihydrofolic acid in the liver. This can lead to health complications and obesity. Those who suffer from this type of genetic problem should consume vitamin B9 and B complex supplements. A natural multivitamin product from a reliable brand can help overcome the vitamin deficiency.
B vitamins help increase the rate of metabolism, resulting in weight loss. Folic acid plays an important role in the breakdown of fats or lipids. The body would not have enough glucose to produce energy if you cut down your food intake. In that case, the body would use its fats or reserves to produce energy. Fats are not as easily converted into energy as carbohydrates. Here, folic acid plays an important role. Sufficient amount of this vitamin in the body helps convert fats into fatty acids and glycerol. Still, more research is required to prove the fact that folic acid supplementation helps lose weight. So you should consult your physician before opting for folic acid weight loss supplements.
Iron and folic acid supplements are recommended to anemic people who are deficient in these two essential nutrients. The supplements, in fact, help gain weight and improve the overall health significantly. Anemia associated with B12 deficiency can be overcome with the help of folic acid supplementation, but the damage done to the nervous system due to B12 deficiency can not be corrected with the help of folic acid supplements. The elderly members (age above 50) of the family are more likely to suffer from B12 deficiencies. They need to take the supplement which contains both folic acid and B12. Intake of folic acid by pregnant women promotes healthy growth of the fetus and increased birth weight of the infant.
Although chances of suffering from toxicity of folic acid due to intake of folic acid supplements and/ or fortified foods are extremely low, you should not take folic acid for losing weight, without consulting your physician. Only a few people will be benefited by vitamin B9 supplementation, not everybody. You should first try to find out the cause behind excess weight. Certain changes in your diet and lifestyle can help you shed those extra pounds. Your physician can guide you regarding what you need to change. Remember, there doesn’t exist any magic pill in the world which can help you lose weight without a balanced diet and regular exercise.