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Health Benefits of Folate for Children, Athletes and Seniors

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

folate health benefits

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  • Folate is the form of B9 found in leafy greens and other foods and can be directly utilized by your body. For this reason, it’s the preferred form, and is particularly important if you have liver problems
  • Folic acid is the synthetic form typically found in supplements. Folic acid is not biologically active in and of itself, but provided your liver is healthy, it will convert folic acid into the active form
  • Research suggests 15% of adults over the age of 50 may be deficient in folate, and the older you are, the greater the deficiency. Folate may help lower your risk for heart disease and stroke by lowering your homocysteine level
  • Taking baker’s yeast, which contains folates, has been shown to minimize post-exercise immunosuppression in athletes, and folic acid supplementation can help lower the risk of cardiovascular events relating to exertion
  • 2018 research found higher folic acid exposure in utero was associated with improved cortical maturation in the child, which in turn predicted a reduced risk for symptoms of psychosis

Folate (vitamin B9) is one of the B vitamins needed for healthy brain development, red and white blood cell production, DNA synthesis, various metabolic processes and the conversion of carbohydrates into energy, just to name a few of its functions.

Your body cannot produce folate, thus making it necessary to get it from your diet. Certain folate-producing probiotics (beneficial bacteria), particularly the Bifidobacterium genus, have been shown to raise folate concentrations, so the makeup of your gut microbiome may influence your folate status.

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