Folic acid is most known as part of prenatal vitamins for pregnant women. It may not be as recognized for its usefulness in other health conditions. For example, this writer uses folic acid under doctor recommendation, to help stop the side effect of hair loss from the arthritis drug, methotrexate.
Uses and Benefits
Folic acid is a commonly known vitamin, naturally occurs in asparagus, bananas, beans, broccoli, spinach, mushrooms, meat like beef and liver according to the WebMD vitamin overview. Also known as folate and vitamin B9, federal law required it to be added in American foods about twenty years ago. To fulfill the law, it has been added to certain foods like crackers, breads, cold cereals, flour, pasta, and cookies. Folic acid is an important ingredient in prenatal vitamins that doctors recommend during women’s pregnancies. It helps to prevent spina bifida and other birth defects.
Lots of other health issues can be helped with folic acid. These conditions include but are not limited to gum infections, anemia, reducing symptoms of nerve pain, restless leg syndrome, depression, AIDS, and more. It helps prevent some age-related population health concerns like macular degeneration, osteoporosis, memory loss, and hearing loss. Side-effects such as severe hair loss and nausea from medications like methotrexate, for rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis, can be slowed or stopped completely by using folic acid too. Folic acid also helps people with severe kidney disease prevent strokes or heart attack.
Several different dosage options are available over-the-counter, so always talk to a doctor before adding this or any new supplement to the daily routine. Maybe folic acid is not the right treatment, or a dosage is needed that is only available by prescription. It may even be that individual patient needs are different than suggested by the instructions on the over-the-counter bottle, such as for people needing methotrexate for rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis. Folic acid can help prevent and stop severe hair loss and nausea from this drug, but there are dosage rules so the two do not zero-out the effectiveness of each other.
WebMD says that most adults can take folic acid safely at a dose of 400 mcg. There may be serious side effects for people who already have heart disease, if it is taken at doses of 800 mcg to 1200mcg for a long time. It may increase chance of lung or prostate cancer at these dose levels in certain patients too.
It can also cause seizures, behavior changes, diarrhea, confusion, sleep disorders and other side effects. This writer monitors her medical needs in relation to this supplement with regular visits to the recommending doctor about every three months. She has not experienced any of the side effects of folic acid in the ten months of taking this supplement. Her experience is her own, and may not be representative of other patients taking folic acid.
Personal Experience, Yahoo Contributing Writer, Lynn Pritchett
Folic Acid Information WebMD