Other Health Benefits and Special Considerations
Currently there is no consensus among professional organizations endorsing a recommendation for taking additional folic acid (i.e.,above the RDA) specifically for chronic disease prevention.
Emerging research shows that folate may help to reduce the risk for certain diseases or conditions including:
- Cardiovascular diseases including coronary heart disease and stroke
- Certain cancers such as breast and cervical*
- Cognitive diseases or mental conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, age-related dementia or cognitive decline, and depression.
There is some controversy as to whether folic acid is associated with an increased risk for colorectal cancer or developing pre-cancerous adenomas (polyps). If you are at higher risk for colorectal cancer (e.g., over age 50, have a family history, have been previously diagnosed with polyps or colorectal cancer), make sure you see your doctor to discuss having regular screenings for precancerous adenomas, which can reduce the chances of developing colorectal cancer.
Although research has not definitively confirmed that folate can reduce the incidences of these serious diseases, studies conducted thus far have shown very promising results. Currently there are several randomized controlled trials in progress testing the effect of folic acid or B vitamin supplementation on the risk for chronic disease.
Our research page has more information.
*Associated benefits were observed for women who have additional risk factors for breast cancer (e.g., a family history of breast cancer or a higher than moderate intake of alcohol) or cervical cancer (e.g., infection with human Papillomavirus (HPV)).
Emerging research shows that folate may help to reduce the risk for certain diseases or conditions including cardiovascular disease, certain cancers and cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer's.