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Vitamin B9 Folic Acid Part 2Folic acid may also help prevent heart disease and stroke by reducing homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine is an amino acid found in meats that can damage arterial walls and contribute to development of atherosclerosis, a condition that often leads to early heart attack.
Folic acid is also thought to be helpful to improving ulcerative colitis symptoms, and may help prevent cancer of the cervix and the colon. Women that get a lot of folic acid decrease their risk of getting colon cancer by up to 60 percent, although for some unknown reason menís risk of colon cancer is not diminished by large amounts of folic acid in the body.
Studies have shown that keeping Vitamin B9 levels high can also help protect the lungs from lung cancer. Increasing folic acid has been shown to reduce the number of abnormal or precancerous bronchial cells in smokers. Smoking, of course, depletes the body of all vitamins, and many smokers that develop lung cancer also have low levels of Vitamin B9.
As important as folic acid is to good health, most people do not get the RDA from their diet. Smokers, the elderly, women taking oral contraceptives, and heavy alcohol users all have difficulty absorbing folic acid from food, and should strongly consider supplementation.
There are also many prescription drugs that block folic acid absorption. Those taking anticonvulsants, cortisone drugs, arthritis medication, sulfa drugs, or sulfasalazine (a drug used to treat ulcerative colitis), should talk to their doctor about the need to supplement folic acid in the diet.
Folic acid deficiency symptoms include anemia, nausea, loss of appetite, diarrhea, malnutrition, weight loss, weakness, sore tongue, headaches, mood swings, heart palpitations, fatigue, graying hair, growth impairment, insomnia, labored breathing, memory problems, paranoia, and weakness. Severe folic acid deficiency can cause a condition known as megaloblastic anemia. Symptoms of this disorder include weight loss, digestive problems, and a burning feeling in the tongue.
It is almost impossible to overdose on folic acid, although massive doses do carry the risk of side effects. Large amounts of folic acid may cause your urine to turn a bright-yellow color, and can prevent anticonvulsant drugs from working properly. There is also a chance that prolonged use of large amounts folic acid might lead to the formation of folacin crystals in the kidneys or cause severe neurological problems.
As always, itís best to speak with your doctor before taking megadoses of any vitamin.
Symptoms such as loss of appetite, nausea, gas, and abdominal bloating have been reported by individuals taking more than 1,500 micrograms of folic acid per day.
Return to Vitamin B9 Folic acid, part 1
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