Folate was previously referred to as folacin. It is a generic term for both naturally occurring folate found in food as well as for folic acid, which is a completely oxidized form of monoglutamate used as a component for dietary supplements and fortified foods.
What is Folate?
Folate is actually a type of B vitamin, which is an essential component for cell growth, development and metabolism. Folate, also known as vitamin B9, can be administered either orally or via IV and is often recommended for daily consumption. The suggested daily intake for adults (in the U.S.) is 400 micrograms (sourced from dietary supplements, multivitamins, and foods).
Benefits of Folate
Folate has countless different health effects and benefits. The vitamin has also been known to cure the anemia caused as a result of folic acid deficiency. Other benefits include being used as a dietary supplement by pregnant women to minimize the developmental risks of neural tube defects (NTDs) in the fetus. Prolonged supplementation of fortified foods not only reduces the threats of strokes, but also causes a significant reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease.
What is Homocysteine?
Homocysteine is a identified as a non-proteinogenic α-amino acid and is essentially a homologue of the amino acid cysteine, only set apart by the characteristic additional methylene bridge (-CH2-). Homocysteine is biosynthesized from methionine after the removal of its terminal Cε methyl group. It can be either recycled into methionine or converted into cysteine after associating it with a few certain B-vitamins.
High levels of Homocystein are regarded as the root cause of a number of cardiovascular diseases. Since folate can help reduce levels of homocycteine, it is often prescribed as a dietery supplement .
A high level of homocysteine in the blood can lead to hyper-homocysteinemia, making the patient more susceptible to endothelial cell injury. This could also subsequently lead to inflammation in the blood vessels, which in turn may cause atherogenesis. This is how increased levels of homocysteine in the blood can lead to Hyperhomocysteinemia, which can then act as a potential risk factor for coronary artery disease.
Effects of Folate on Homocysteine
Folate is recommended to mitigate the risks of the injuries and diseases mentioned above. Taking folic acid for a prolonged period of time has demonstrated a significant lowering of homocycteines and shown visible signs of reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease by 4%. A number of other scientific reports and studies presented preliminary evidence regarding how folate-rich diets were associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases by decreasing homocysteines blood levels.