Blossoms Healthcare has seen a fair bit of coverage in the media recently about the health benefits of taking Folic acid supplements, particularly during pregnancy, so they've summarised some information from different health sources to help reached a balanced perspective on whether Folic acid is really good for you.
Folic acid, a form of folate (a 'B' vitamin), has been linked with reducing depression, improving fertility, reducing spina bifida and congenital heart defects in babies, as well as helping to prevent cardiovascular disease, strokes and even cognitive decline. Many countries advocate taking extra doses of Folic acid and also add the supplement to many common food sources, such as bread and breakfast cereals.
However, there's also a fair amount of research going on into whether people can consume too much folic acid. A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicates it's possible to have too much Folic acid.
The study shows that although Folic acid is found widely in foods such as spinach and other green vegetables, it is then converted into folate in the liver, although the liver has a limited ability to make the conversion. Unmetabolised Folic acid is often found in blood and urine.
The recommended daily dose of Folic acid (0.4mg) is converted into folate in most people, however, the extra food additives in bread and cereals, particularly when combined with supplement pills commonly taken during pregnancy, could easily amount to far more than the recommended daily intake.
The study flags that Folic acid intake of more than 1mg a day, from whatever source, will increase exposure to unmetabolised Folic acid being retained in the body. This is a health risk, because high doses of Folic acid are suspected of exacerbating certain cancers, particularly cancer of the colon.
The current advice from the Food Standards Agency is not to take supplementary Folic acid unless you are pregnant, or trying to conceive, as too much could be harmful.
The study concludes with what's probably a sound piece of advice - that Folic-acid pills are good during pregnancy, and that aspiring mothers should not give them up, although the rest of us should just eat our spinach and green vegetables.