We discuss the importance of folic acid for expectant mothers and their children. But the B vitamin can be just as important for dads!
Folic acid’s primary role is in helping reduce the risk of children developing a neural tube defect during the early stages of pregnancy. Women are recommended to take 400 mcg of folic acid for at least a month before conception and during the first three months of pregnancy.
However, men and women both need folic acid – and its natural form folate – because of its use in the development ofred and white blood cells. It also aids the body in utilizing carbohydrates as energy and making healthy DNA.
For men specifically, research suggests that folic acid can be beneficial in the planning stages of pregnancy. Substantial evidence has been found to support folic acid’s role in the maintenance of normal sperm development.
Folate (the natural form of folic acid) levels measured in semen have been associated with sperm health. One study found that low folate levels in semen were associated with poor sperm DNA stability.
Additional studies have found folic acid to play a role in sperm count. In a study published in the Fertility and Sterilityjournal, men were given 5 mg of folic acid and 66 mg of zinc a day for 26 weeks. They found that sperm count increased in 74% of the men.
Along with its role in fertility, folic acid can also play an important role in reducing the risk of a wide range of health concerns.
Taking the recommended 400mcg of folic acid daily can help protect your heart and cardiovascular system, decrease the risk for certain cancers – including pancreatic and colon cancers – lower the risk for depression and mood disorders, ward off Alzheimer’s disease and play a role in preventing general memory loss that comes with old age.
Folic acid is available over the counter for less than a $1 a pill. You can also get folic acid in your diet by including dark leafy greens, asparagus, peanuts, chickpeas, and fortified whole grains.