Against dementia and Alzheimer’s: Why folic acid is considered the essential vitamin to fight them

During years folic acid has been recognized as an essential supplement for pregnant women, is one of the best allies to prevent birth defects in the fetus and strengthen the health of the future mother. Nowadays, new and relevant evidence has come to light about its role in reducing the risk of a number of health problems, including dementia. Experts strongly recommend increasing your daily intake.

This is suggested by a review of studies published last June in the journal Nutrients. In this analysis, taking a folic acid supplement on a daily basis was found to be a habit that has the ability to reduce inflammation levels, which is well known to be the root cause of chronic diseases including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and arthritis. Complementing this is another interesting reference, a study published earlier this year in the Quarterly Journal of Medicine in which it was found that Getting enough folic acid helps the body break down homocysteine. It is a compound that is produced when proteins are digested and that at high levels is associated with damaged blood vessels, reduced blood flow and an increased risk of heart attack or stroke.

With these findings as a background, researchers from the University of Aberdeen established as a general recommendation for all those over 65 years of age: increase folic acid intake, this taking into account that the current daily recommendation of 200 mcg.

There’s no question: folic acid is fast becoming the vitamin of the moment for boosting brain function and boosting cognitive health. Not in vain have other studies of great interest come out, which have shown a link between low folic acid content and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, the beneficial action folic acid has on homocysteine ​​is also believed to be behind this link, as research has long suggested that high levels contribute to dementia.

Folic acid, it is also known as vitamin B9, and is considered essential for nerve function, the formation of DNA and is key in the formation of healthy red blood cells. Currently the recommendation of the Department of Health for adults is to consume 200 mcg through food, while for women who are trying to have a baby or who are pregnant, the intake of a 400 mcg supplement is recommended.

What is worrying, and according to figures from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey, in the last 15 years there has been a steady decline in folic acid intake. It is estimated that about 40% of adults have low blood levels. Among the possible reasons, it is believed that this is directly related to the lifestyle and diet that characterizes modern society, in which the consumption of processed foods that are characterized by being incredibly harmful to health abounds. They are highly caloric, rich in added sugars, saturated fats, refined flours and with abundant additives, For obvious reasons it is no secret to say that they contain very little folic acid.

The truth is that experts from all over the world agree that it is vital to reverse this trend, in such a way that many health authorities around the world recommend fortifying foods made with flour with folic acid. Which would not only be an effective and safe measure to feed the intake at the national level, it is also key to reducing the number of babies born with neural tube defects. However, there are some concerns about adopting routine fortification in foods, considering that research has previously suggested that high doses of folic acid can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, sleep disturbances, and seizures. Also, it is likely that it can mask the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, a particular concern in older people.

Meanwhile the healthiest recommendation is to bet on incorporating more folic acid into the daily diet through nutritious and satisfying food. Based on this, we set about compiling some of the products that simply cannot be missing from your diet.

1. Soy beans (edamames)

In just a 62 gram serving, we will get 200 mcg of folic acid. Which is 100% of the RDA. They are also an incredible source of plant protein, provide half of the recommended fiber intake and are a The most satisfying and healthy snack. Bet on consuming them in soups, salads and all kinds of garnishes, experts advise consuming them raw in salad to get the most of their nutritional benefits. Cooking is known to destroy some of its most important nutrients, for stronger results increase the serving to 80 grams.

Edamames. / Photo: Shutterstock

2. Kiwis

Only two refreshing and delicious pieces of kiwi provide 40 mcg of folic acid, which is equivalent to 20% of the recommended daily amount. As if that were not enough, they are a citrus fruit with immense health benefits and that are related in principle to its high content of vitamin C. One genius of integrating them into the daily diet is that they count as one of the five recommended servings of fruits and vegetables per day and contain only 80 calories. Alsos benefit the functioning of the digestive and intestinal systems, thanks to its 4 grams of fiber. They are a great addition to increasing folic acid intake, losing weight, and strengthening the immune system.

Kiwi. / Photo: Pexels

3. Black beans

Beans are an extraordinary source of folic acid. One can provides 50 mcg of folic acid, which is equivalent to 25% of the recommended daily amount. They are undoubtedly a great contribution to the daily diet, largely because they are a great source of fiber and protein: half a can (207.5 g) provides 8 g of fiber, which is more than 25% of the daily needs of an adult. This serving also provides a good amount (10 g) of protein. The only recommendation is to be careful with these canned versions, andthey usually contain a lot of added sugar and salt The best choice? Bet on the consumption of natural beans or brands like Heinz beans with no added sugar or salt, in fact they contain a quarter less salt than standard beans, with only 0.4 g per serving.

black beans
Black beans / Photo: Shutterstock

4. Peanut butter

The irresistible peanut butter can also be a good supplement to reach your daily folic acid goals. A serving of 32 grams provides 40 mcg of folic acid. Naturally, peanuts are a good source of folic acid, as well as vitamin E, for healthy skin and eyes, and magnesium, which is a mineral necessary for energy and to help the body absorb calcium for bones. healthy. However, we cannot rule out that peanut butter is quite caloric and high in fat, mainly the healthier monounsaturated type that can help lower cholesterol. Bet on the organic versions, made by hand and without salt or additional additives.

Peanut butter / Photo: Shutterstock

5. Asparagus

Asparagus is also the perfect addition, in a serving of 100 grams you get 150 mcg of folic acid, which represents the 75% of the recommended daily value. For added context: just eight asparagus provide three-quarters of your daily folic acid, along with a good amount of vitamins A (for healthy skin and eyes), C, and K (for healthy blood clotting). Another genius is that asparagus also contains inulin, a type of fiber that feeds “good” gut bacteria and is associated with better digestion.

Asparagus. / Photo: Pixabay

6. Boiled eggs

Eggs are not only one of the healthiest foods on the planet, their nutrient density is impressive and of course they are a good source of folic acid: two eggs provide 48 mcg, which is about 24% of the recommended daily allowance. In addition, eggs are one of the few food sources of vitamin D, iodine (key to make the metabolism work), they are one of the best sources of proteins of high biological value and contain 80% of the necessary vitamin B12 All this for 140 calories!

Eggs. / Photo: Shutterstock

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