Although folic acid has long been known to play a critical role in brain development, it has never been determined just how important folate is for general brain functioning throughout life. However, a recent study might just answer that question.
Researchers have found that teens with the highest levels of folic acid in their systems also received the best grades in school, according to an article by HealthDay News. The study looked at 386 15-year-olds from Sweden who were just finishing up their ninth-grade year. By totaling the grades from their 10 core classes (and taking into account other factors such as socioeconomic status and genetics), there was an obvious difference between the students with the highest levels of folic acid and the students with the lowest.
However, the results of this study shouldn’t necessarily have people jumping out of their seats to take their folate supplements. The Swedish teens in the study may have had folate deficiencies, as their folate levels were lower than is usually found in North American teenagers. In fact, most North Americans get adequate amounts of folate in their diets, according to an article from Reuters Health.
Many foods are now fortified with folic acid. However, many green
vegetables and enriched grains are great natural sources of folic acid.
Photo by Gwarcita/Courtesy Flickr
Folic acid, or vitamin B9, helps the body make DNA and RNA. Low levels of folic acid during development can cause birth defects in the brain and spine such as spina bifida. Folic acid has been used to protect against colon cancer and cervical cancer as well as heart disease and stroke. It can also be used to prevent memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease, blindness and osteoporosis.
The recommended intake of folate varies greatly with age, but children should be getting about 150 to 200 mg daily, teenagers from 300 to 400 mg, and adults should have about 400 mg per day. Pregnant women are suggested to add a little extra folate to their diets to aid in fetal development. In order to make sure you’re getting enough folate, your diet should include foods such as spinach, broccoli, asparagus, bananas, melons, beans, mushrooms, meat and yeast.
Click here for more information about folic acid and its many benefits.