Research links folate deficiency to a wide range of diseases
(NaturalHealth365) Folate, sometimes referred to as vitamin B9 or folic acid, is an essential vitamin found in green leafy vegetables and many fruits. Folate deficiency has been linked to many diseases, such as age-related dementia, cancer, anemia, and mental illness. It’s also recommended in prenatal vitamins for women because folate deficiency has been linked to birth defects.
Recent research took a closer look at folate deficiency and a condition known as fragile X syndrome. Fragile X syndrome is a genetic disease that causes developmental problems like learning disabilities. With this study, scientists were able to get a better idea of why folate deficiency can lead to many other diseases.
Folate deficiency causes DNA problems that can’t be fixed
The study was performed at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, and researchers were specifically looking for a link between folate deficiency and problems with DNA replication and segregation. The found that when you don’t have enough folate, it can lead to more harmful chromosome abnormalities.
Basically, when your DNA replicates, the daughter cells don’t get the right amount of DNA after your cells divide. Sometimes an entire chromosome is lost. Researchers believe this is why folate deficiency is linked to diseases like cancer, mental health problems, and infertility.
What’s scary is that when a cell loses a part of a chromosome or the entire chromosome, it can’t be fixed. When folate deficiency leads to problems with cell division, it can’t be fixed by consuming more folic acid. When the damage is done, it can’t be reversed.
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Healthy folate levels found essential for disease prevention
This is the first study that shows folate deficiency can cause problems with DNA replication and cell division. Since DNA mutations caused by too little folate can’t be reversed (and they continue being passed on to other cells), making sure you get enough folate is important.
The results of this study support the idea that getting enough folate may lower your risk of diseases like cancer and age-related dementia.
Folate deficiency can happen in just weeks. This is why some foods have additional folate to help prevent problems with deficiency. In most cases, you can get the folate you need from the foods you eat.
Foods containing high amounts of folate include:
- Brussels sprouts
- Green, leafy vegetables like spinach and broccoli
- Tomato juice
- Citrus fruits
- Fortified cereals
Conventionally speaking, the recommended daily intake of folate should be 400 micrograms, but women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant require a folate supplement. Important to note: taking medicines like phenytoin, sulfasalazine, and methotrexate can cause a folate deficiency.
So, if you think you’re at risk for a deficiency, talk to your (integrative) doctor about taking a folate supplement. Remember, we should never underestimate the healing power of good nutrition.
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