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How and when to take folic acid: Benefits and side effects

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

Folic acid is a vitamin known as B9 that the body requires to develop and evolve body cells. Folic acid is also involved in producing red blood cells, which are responsible for transporting oxygen to various parts of the body.

There are multiple properties and benefits that folic acid intake provides to the body. However, it also raises many doubts, especially in pregnant women, who are often forced to increase their consumption and, on occasions, may feel a slight increase in weight. But is it true that folic acid makes you fat? If this also worries you, we will explain FastlyHealif e l folic acid fat or not in this article.

Does taking folic acid make you fat?

Folic acid does not make you fat. For years, it has been erroneously believed that the consumption of folic acid in pregnant women could lead to weight gain, but nothing could be further from the truth. Pregnant women are indeed the ones who consume this vitamin the most, but when weight gain occurs in them, at no time does it have to do with folic acid. But is simply due to the development of the fetus inside the cavity uterine.

Folic acid has excellent properties and benefits that help keep the body in shape and enjoy excellent health. In this other FastlyHealarticle, we explain what folic acid is for?

Benefits of folic acid

Folic acid provides excellent benefits to the body, among which are:

  • Stimulates protein production: this is done with vitamins including B12 and C.
  • It is involved in DNA production, which is responsible for transporting genetic information to cells.
  • It helps assimilate iron and vitamin B12, and amino acids that are important to prevent anemia, increasing the production of red blood cells.
  • Develops the placenta: during pregnancy, its consumption contributes to the development of the placenta, making it more robust to protect the embryo correctly.
  • Protects and strengthens the nervous system: it is part of the development of the nervous system, so it prevents the appearance of problems during pregnancy, such as anencephaly, which is the absence of a brain mass.
  • Protects against congenital anomalies: folic acid or vitamin B9 helps prevent congenital abnormalities such as spina bifida, where part of the neural tube does not form or does not close properly, thus causing defects in the spinal cord and bones of the spine vertebral.
  • Helps fight depression: improves treatment with antidepressants in cases of depression.
  • Protects the heart: this is achieved by lowering homocysteine levels ​​in the blood, which is associated with an increased risk of heart attacks.
  • Improves mood: in addition, it increases the production of serotonin.

This other article explains more about the benefits of folic acid during pregnancy.

How and when to take folic acid

The amount of folic acid necessary for the body will depend mainly on the person’s age. However, the standard folic acid dose is 400 mcg per day. If your diet is low in folic acid, it is recommended to take a pill once a day for at least a month. It is also advisable to ingest this amount in case of diseases that must be controlled with this vitamin.

How to take folic acid

The intake of folic acid can be in several ways:

  • Multivitamins: it is a pill that contains several vitamins and other nutrients whose contributions are necessary for the body and contain folic acid.
  • Prenatal vitamin: You can also go for prenatal vitamins. In this way, you will get the necessary nutrients during pregnancy.
  • Supplements that only contain folic acid are another option, although it is advisable to consult with your doctor before consuming the supplements.
  • Through food: another way to ingest folic acid is through the consumption of foods rich in folic acids, such as those that we will explain below.

Foods rich in folic acid

  • Green leafy vegetables: they have a high folic acid content, such as broccoli, asparagus, chard, lettuce, and spinach.
  • Whole grains: it has a high content of nutrients and the aforementioned folic acid.
  • Citrus: Fruits like grapefruits, tangerines, oranges, and lemons are foods rich in vitamin C, as well as folic acid.

In addition, there are foods fortified with folic acid, that is, that has been added during its preparation. Among them are:

  • White rice
  • Wheat flour
  • Pasta
  • Cornmeal
  • Pan
  • Cereals

It is difficult to ingest all the folic acid that the body requires through food in many cases. For this reason, dietary intake should be supplemented with folic acid supplements.

How to take folic acid for women

Women should take folic acid before becoming pregnant. In this way, they will be able to prevent neural tube defects before and during the first weeks of pregnancy. The dose is 400 mcg daily for a month before becoming pregnant and up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. Once this is more advanced, it is necessary to ingest 600 mcg of folic acid daily to contribute to the development and growth of the fetus.

Similarly, taking 400 mcg of folic acid is recommended, even if you are not looking for pregnancy. Find when looking for pregnancy. Here we explain more about the benefits of taking folic acid without being pregnant.

Side effects of folic acid

Folic acid is safe as long as the indicated dose is used. However, there are cases where its use orally can cause:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Sickness
  • Unpleasant taste in the mouth
  • Irritability or confusion
  • Changes in sleep pattern

On the other hand, people who suffer from allergies can present reactions after ingesting folic acid, which can be:

  • Skin rash
  • Itching
  • Redness
  • Difficulty breathing

It is also important to note that excess folic acid can hide a vitamin B12 deficiency, leading to irreversible neurological effects. To avoid this problem, take a supplement that contains 100% of the required daily value of folic acid and vitamin B12. However, it is advisable to consult with your doctor before doing so.

Folic acid contraindications – drug interactions

Folic acid can interact with some medications:

  • Barbiturates: Barbiturates are central nervous system depressants. Taking folic acid with these medications could decrease the effectiveness of the barbiturate.
  • Anticonvulsant: taking folic acid with medicines that act as anticonvulsants can lower the concentration of the treatment in the blood, thus hindering the desired effect.
  • Pyrimethamine: It is known as Daraprin, an antimalarial drug. When this vitamin is taken with this medicine, it could lower the drug’s effectiveness.
  • Methotrexate – Also known as Trexall, is a drug used to treat cancer. If folic acid is taken together with this medicine, its effectiveness is affected.

It is vitally important to go to the doctor in cases where folic acid consumption is required. He will be in charge of verifying the pathology you suffer and the adequate dose you need to correct its deficit. If you are a pregnant woman, the midwife will be in charge of dosing your folic acid intake.

This article is merely informative. At FastlyHeal .com, we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Does folic acid make you fat? We recommend that you enter our Wellness category.

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