What is Folate?
Folate, also known as folic acid, works with approximately 20 different enzymes to build DNA, the material that contains the genetic code for your body. It is known to protect against lung, colon and cervical cancer. It is also essential for normal nerve function.
In addition, folic acid lowers the bodyís levels of homocysteine. Homocysteine is an artery-attacking chemical that accumulates in the blood. Not only does folic acid keep our blood cleaner, it keeps our blood vessels and major arteries stronger to carry life-giving blood to all other parts of our body. In other words, the risk of getting cardiovascular disease is greatly reduced or possibly eliminated by having folic acid in the diet.
Researchers at the University of Alabama Birmingham found that women with large amounts of naturally occurring folate levels were two to five times less likely to develop cervical dysplasia (a condition involving the development of abnormal cells in the cervix, which can progress to cancer in some women). Women with high folate levels were more protected from the effects of pollutants such as cigarette smoke, the human papilloma virus, contraceptives, as well as complications from childbirth.
Folic acid also protects a womanís fetus from life-threatening birth defects of the brain and spine. According to a survey done by the March of Dimes, not enough women are aware of this fact. It is recommended that all women capable of bearing children get 400 micrograms of folic acid every day. This amount is available in a multivitamin/mineral supplement. It has virtually no side effects, but doses higher than 400 mcg per day can cause nausea, bloating and other discomforts. So, itís important to stay within the recommended required dose.
Use To Lower Risk
The following substances can increase your need for folic acid. These include alcohol, tobacco, aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, oral contraceptives, pancreatic extracts, estrogen, antacids, arthritis drugs such as methotrexate, and medications prescribed for convulsions, malaria and bacterial infections.
Foods That Contain It
Foods that naturally contain folic acid are: fortified cereals, pinto beans, navy beans, asparagus, spinach, broccoli, okra and brussels sprouts. A good dayís diet of plenty of folic acid could be a cup of orange juice, one cup of fortified cereal, a cup of raw spinach in a salad. As always, make sure produce is fresh and rinsed, donít over process or expose to heat or light, so that you can reap its optimal nutritional benefits.
Cancer prevention starts with a healthy life-style. And a healthy life-style makes for a joyful, content life!