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Nutrition Advice for “Young” Seniors

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Feb 21st, 2014

Senior Couples

Folic Acid

Also indexed as:Vitamin B9
Folic Acid: Main Image

Folic acid is a B vitamin needed for cell replication and growth. Folic acid helps form building blocks of DNA, the body’s genetic information, and building blocks of RNA, needed for protein synthesis in all cells. Therefore, rapidly growing tissues, such as those of a fetus, and rapidly regenerating cells, like red blood cells and immune cells, have a high need for folic acid. Folic acid deficiency results in a form of anemia that responds quickly to folic acid supplementation.

  • Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
  • Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
  • For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:

Used for AmountWhy
Abnormal Pap Smear
10 mg daily under medical supervision3 stars[3 stars]
Large amounts of folic acid have been shown to improve the abnormal Pap smears of some women who are taking birth control pills.
Birth Defects
At least 400 mcg daily3 stars[3 stars]
Supplementing with folic acid before and during the early weeks of pregnancy dramatically reduces the risk of neural tube defects.
Depression and Folic Acid Deficiency
See a doctor for evaluation3 stars[3 stars]
Taking folic acid can help correct deficiencies associated with depression.
Gingivitis
5 ml of a 0.1% solution used as a mouth rinse twice per dayas Folic Acid Rinse3 stars[3 stars]
Rinsing with a folic acid solution may help reduce inflammation and bleeding.
High Homocysteine

(Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12)
400 to 1,000 mcg of folic acid daily, 10 to 50 mg of vitamin B6 daily, and 50 to 300 mcg of vitamin B12 daily3 stars[3 stars]
Vitamin B6, folic acid, and vitamin B12 all play a role in converting homocysteine to other substances within the body and have consistently lowered homocysteine levels in trials.
Pregnancy and Postpartum Support
800 mcg daily, beginning before pregnancy3 stars[3 stars]
Supplementing with folic acid protects against the formation of birth defects, such as spina bifida. It also may lead to few infections for mothers and higher birth weight for babies.
Schizophrenia and Folic Acid Deficiency
If deficient: 10 to 20 mg a day under medical supervision3 stars[3 stars]
People with schizophrenia may have a tendency to be deficient in folic acid and they may see improvements when given supplements.
Age-Related Cognitive Decline

(Vitamin B12)
100 mcg per day of vitamin B12 and 400 mcg per day of folic acid2 stars[2 stars]
In a double-blind trial, supplementing with vitamin B12 and folic acid for 2 years slowed the rate of cognitive decline, compared with placebo, in elderly volunteers.
Age-Related Cognitive Decline

(In people with high homocysteine)
800 mcg per day 2 stars[2 stars]
Folic acid has been shown to slow the rate of cognitive decline in people with high homocysteine levels and in elderly people.
Age-Related Cognitive Decline

(Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12)
Refer to label instructions 2 stars[2 stars]
In women with cardiovascular disease or related risk factors and low dietary intake of folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12, supplementing with a combination of these nutrients may protect against age-related cognitive decline.
Atherosclerosis
Consult a qualified healthcare practitioner2 stars[2 stars]
Blood levels of an amino acid called homocysteine have been linked to atherosclerosis and heart disease in most research. Taking folic acid may help lower homocysteine levels.
Breast Cancer
400 mcg daily2 stars[2 stars]
For women who drink alcohol, folic acid may reduce breast cancer risk by reversing the damaging effect alcohol has on DNA.
Celiac Disease

(Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12)
3 mg vitamin B6, 0.8 mg folic acid, and 0.5 mg vitamin B122 stars[2 stars]
Daily supplementation with a combination of vitamin B6 (3 mg), folic acid (0.8 mg), and vitamin B12 (0.5 mg) have been shown to help relieve depression in people with celiac disease.
Celiac Disease
Consult a qualified healthcare practitioner2 stars[2 stars]
The malabsorption that occurs in celiac disease can lead to multiple nutritional deficiencies. Supplementing with folic acid may correct a deficiency.
Halitosis and Gum Disease
Use 5 ml twice per day of a 0.1% solution2 stars[2 stars]
Folic acid is often recommended by doctors to help prevent and treat periodontitis and has been shown to reduce the severity of gingivitis when taken as a mouthwash.
Heart Attack
500 to 800 mcg daily2 stars[2 stars]
Taking folic acid may reduce blood levels of homocysteine. High homocysteine levels have been linked to an increased heart attack risk.
Intermittent Claudication

(Alpha-Linolenic Acid, Fish Oil, Oleic Acid, Vitamin B6, Vitamin E)
200 mg of EPA and 130 mg of DHA daily, plus small amounts of vitamin B6, folic acid, vitamin E, oleic acid, and alpha-linolenic acid2 stars[2 stars]
In one study, men with intermittent claudication who drank a milk product fortified with fish oil, vitamin B6, folic acid, vitamin E, oleic acid, and alpha-linolenic acid could walk further without pain than those who drank regular milk.
Macular Degeneration

(Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12)
2.5 mg folic acid, 50 mg vitamin B6, and 1 mg vitamin B12 2 stars[2 stars]
In a double-blind study of female health professionals who had cardiovascular disease or risk factors, daily supplementation with folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 significantly decreased age-related macular degeneration.
Migraine Headache

(For a subset of people )
5 mg per day 2 stars[2 stars]
Taking folic acid may improve migraines in people with high homocysteine levels and a certain genetic characteristic.
Neuropathy

(Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12)
Refer to label instructions 2 stars[2 stars]
Taking a supplemental form of folate, vitamin B12, and vitamin B6 may improve neuropathy symptoms and quality of life.
Osteoporosis and High Homocysteine
5 mg with 1,500 mcg of vitamin B12 daily2 stars[2 stars]
Homocystinuria, a condition associated with high homocysteine levels, frequently causes osteoporosis. By lowering homocysteine levels, folic acid may help prevent osteoporosis.
Preeclampsia
5 mg daily2 stars[2 stars]
Supplementing with folic acid and vitamin B6 may lower homocysteine levels. Elevated homocysteine damages the lining of blood vessels and can lead to the preeclamptic symptoms.
Schizophrenia and High Homocysteine

(Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12)
Take folic acid (2 mg), vitamin B6 (25 mg), and vitamin B12 (400 mcg) daily2 stars[2 stars]
People with schizophrenia who have high homocysteine levels may improve symptoms by supplementing with folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12.
Sickle Cell Anemia and High Homocysteine
Consult a qualified healthcare practitioner2 stars[2 stars]
In one trial, patients with sickle cell anemia who were given folic acid plus aged garlic extract, vitamin C, and vitamin E saw significant improvement and less painful crises.
Skin Ulcers
Consult a qualified healthcare practitioner2 stars[2 stars]
Large amounts of folic acid given both orally and by injection could promote healing of chronic skin ulcers due to poor circulation.
Thalassemia
If deficient: 250 to 1,000 mcg daily2 stars[2 stars]
Some studies have found people with thalassemia to be frequently deficient in folic acid, taking folic acid supplements may help.
Ulcerative Colitis
Consult a qualified healthcare practitioner2 stars[2 stars]
People with ulcerative colitis may be at a higher risk of colon cancer, supplementing with folic acid may reduce the risk.
Vitiligo
Refer to label instructions 2 stars[2 stars]
Studies have shown folic acid to be effective at skin repigmentation in people with vitiligo.
Alzheimer’s Disease
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Some researchers feel Alzheimer’s disease may be related to folic acid deficiency.
Bipolar Disorder
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Folic acid deficiency is associated with both mania and depression. Getting enough folic acid helps the body manufacture serotonin and other neurotransmitters.
Colon Cancer
400 mcg daily1 star[1 star]
Folic acid appears to help prevent colon cancer, especially in people with ulcerative colitis and people who drink alcohol.
Crohn’s Disease
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Folic acid is needed to repair intestinal cells damaged by Crohn’s disease. Supplementation may offset some of the deficiency caused by Crohn’s-related malabsorption.
Dermatitis Herpetiformis
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Supplementing with folic acid can counteract the nutrient deficiency that often occurs as a result of malabsorption.
Diarrhea
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Folic acid can help repair intestinal lining damage caused by acute diarrhea.
Down’s Syndrome
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
People with Down’s syndrome may be deficient in folic acid and may benefit from supplementation.
Epilepsy
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Folic acid may help reduce epileptic seizure frequency, people taking anticonvulsant medications should talk to their doctor before deciding whether to use folic acid.
Gingivitis
Refer to label instructions as Folic Acid Oral1 star[1 star]
In pill form, folic acid may improve gingivitis symptoms, although one study found the mouth rinse form to be more effective.
HIV and AIDS Support
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Low folic acid levels are also common in HIV-positive people, supplementing may help correct a deficiency.
Lung Cancer
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Together, folic acid and vitamin B12 help cells replicate normally. In one trial, smokers with precancerous lung changes who were given folic acid and vitamin B12 saw a significant reversal of their condition.
Peripheral Vascular Disease
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
As with other vascular diseases, people with thromboangiitis obliterans are more likely to have low levels of folic acid. Supplementing with folic acid may help correct a deficiency.
Psoriasis
Only for people who are not taking prescription drugs such as methotrexate that interfere with folic acid metabolism1 star[1 star]
High amounts of folic acid have been shown to improve psoriasis.
Restless Legs Syndrome
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
People with familial restless leg syndrome appear to have an unusually high requirement for folic acid. Supplementing with folic acid may help relieve uncomfortable sensations.
Seborrheic Dermatitis
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Supplementing with folic acid has been shown to improve adult seborrheic dermatitis.
Stroke and High Homocysteine
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Elevated blood levels of homocysteine have been linked to stroke risk in most studies. Supplementing with folic acid may lower homocysteine levels and reduce stroke risk.
Thromboangiitis Obliterans
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
As with other vascular diseases, people with thromboangiitis obliterans are more likely to have low levels of folic acid. Supplementing with folic acid may help correct a deficiency.

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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.

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