Folic acid (vitamin B-6), the synthetic version of folate, has been instrumental in reducing the number of neural tube birth defects, ever since the US government mandated that all breads and other grain products be infused with this essential B vitamin; pregnant women are strongly advised to include folate supplementation in their diet.
But folic acid alone is ineffective in nourishing the nervous system; for that, it requires help from vitamin B12.
Folic acid + B12 = healthy nerves
A study found that both folic acid and vitamin B12, taken together, produced the most beneficial results in regards to nerve function.
- A Tufts University study examined 1,459 individuals over the age of 60.
- 25% had vitamin B12 deficiency, and likewise scored poorly on mental acuity testing.
- Of the participants who has B12 deficiency, the ones who also had folic acid deficiency turned out the worst scores- 5 times below the average for healthy individuals of that age.
- The elderly are particularly at risk because of their inability to utilize B12 vitamins naturally.
- According to the Journal of American Medical Association, folic acid and vitamin B12 taken together may be used to treat heart disease and reduce the number of related deaths in the US.
- Clinical research has shown that folic acid is effective for reducing homocysteine levels, a precursor to heart disease, but that the addition of vitamin B12 accounts for an extra 7% success rate.
Vitamin B12 occurs naturally in meat, fish, dairy and egg products. Vegans and vegetarians must rely on B12 supplements in order to avoid B12 deficiency.
Folic acid is found in all cereals, baked goods and other grain products, ever since the US government ruled back in 1998 that it be included in order to prevent birth defects.