Who knew that Folic Acid Week fell during the 2nd week in January? I didn’t. In fact, I didn’t even know that much about folic acid until I started researching it. I found out how important folic acid is for seniors, and how it is crucial that aging adults consume enough folic acid each day for improved physical and mental functions to fight symptoms of aging.
What is Folic Acid?
Folic acid, or folate, is in the family of B vitamins, and it helps to create DNA, repair DNA and produce red blood cells. Moreover, studies have shown improved mental agility and cognitive function among seniors ingesting the recommended daily allowance of folate through healthy diets. There’s some good news!
What are sources of folic acid?
There are an abundance of foods that contain folic acid. These include:
- Citrus fruits and juices
- Tomato juice
- Green leafy vegetables, like spinach
- Dried beans
- Brussels sprouts
- Some organ meats, such as liver or kidneys
- Fortified cereals
- Seeds, like sunflower
- Wheat bran
- Yeast extract
What causes folic acid deficiency?
- When seniors do not consume enough foods containing folic acid, it can lead to folic acid deficiencies that negatively affect the body and mind.
- There are diseases that prevent the body from absorbing folate properly, which can lead to folic acid deficiencies: Crohn’s, Celiac Disease, certain cancers and kidney disorders requiring dialysis.
- There are certain genetic conditions that can prevent a body from converting folate to its usable form, methlyfolate.
- Certain medications can cause folate deficiency in seniors, such as Dilantin and methotrexate, just to name a few.
- Excessive alcohol intake will diminish folic acid absorption in the body, while folate is quickly being excreted from the body through urine.
What are the symptoms of folic acid deficiency?
Be cognizant of the signs and symptoms seniors experience that indicate a folic acid deficiency, even though some may seem quite sublime:
- Gray hair
- Mouth sores
- Tongue swelling
- Growth problems
The symptoms of anemia that may indicate a folic acid deficiency:
- Persistent fatigue
- Pale skin
- Shortness of breath
What are the benefits of folic acid for seniors?
- Reduced risk of anemia. With the proper intake of folic acid each day, red blood cell counts will be strong enough to battle anemia and the symptoms thereof.
- Improved mental agility and cognitive function. According to Senior Living Experts, “It has been suggested and studied that folic acid is closely-linked to memory. With the majority of seniors over the age of 80 displaying some symptoms or signs of dementia, eating a balanced diet that includes the recommended daily allowance of folic acid may help prevent memory-loss, forgetfulness, and even aphasia.”
- Reduced risk of developing hearing loss and Alzheimer’s. Medical News Today reports, “Some research studies have linked folic acid supplement taking with reductions in various age-related impairments such as hearing loss and Alzheimer's. Others are not so clear, but there seems to be consensus that it helps improve cognitive function in elderly people with high concentrations of the amino acid homocysteine in their blood, which could indicate increased risks of stroke, heart disease and Alzheimer's.”
- Healthier aging with daily folic acid. Senior Living Experts continued, “Exciting new research is showing that dementia symptoms may be lessened and improved with a daily diet rich in folate, or folic acid supplements per your physician’s recommendation. Seniors seem less anxious, less agitated, and more able to focus than those that do not get enough folic acid daily. Talk to your geriatric provider about whether your senior’s symptoms may be an indicator of low folate levels.”
- Folate regulates appetite and improves digestion. Folic acid helps the body digest proteins and metabolize amino acids more efficiently. Folate has also been credited with regulating appetite, which can be a critical issue with seniors.
- Folic acid can regulate blood pressure. Studies have shown that a diet rich in folic acid, that includes lots of salads, fresh produce and legumes, regulates blood pressure, especially in women.
I hope this sheds some light on a seldom-recognized B-vitamin that does the body lots of good! During National Folic Acid Week, do a self-assessment of your own dietary intake of folate, and explore symptoms of folic acid deficiency your senior loved ones may be experiencing. Remember to always consult with your primary care physician before making any changes in diet or supplements.
If assistance with medication and supplement reminders would help you or a special senior you know; or transportation assistance to their doctor or pharmacist is necessary to discuss personal folic acid requirements, please contact me. I offer a FREE consultation to assess and match the perfect, compassionate caregiver who is happy to provide the assistance needed!
We, at Home Helpers® Clearwater, are honored to have received the Home Care Pulse – Best of Home Care® Provider of Choice Award for 2017, 2018 & 2019. We proudly serve male and female seniors in Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor, Tarpon Springs, Holiday, New Port Richey, Trinity, Port Richey, Hudson and surrounding areas. Home Helpers®…we are Making Life Easier℠ 727.942.2539