Folic acid is a very important vitamin in human nutrition. Its usefulness has always been described in women, especially if they want to become pregnant. However, in men it is also essential.
As a general rule, the consumption of folic acid supplements is not associated with men, but with women of childbearing age, especially if they feel the desire to have children. But we must not forget the importance of vitamins for the body of all human beings.
Vitamin B9 or folic acid is water-soluble, that is, it is diluted in liquid media and is necessary for the formation of new cells. Does it have an effect on males, too? Let’s see.
Functions of folic acid.
Folic acid is an essential nutrient for cell life, allowing the development and growth of our tissues, always helped by other substances or vitamins that collaborate in the process. The main functions are as follows:
- Cell creation and growth: it is a fundamental element in the formation of red blood cells. It is usually prescribed, inclusive, for the prevention of anemias.
- Break down and form new proteins, along with other vitamins such as B12 or vitamin C.
- Help in the formation of DNA: deoxyribonucleic acid is the functional unit responsible for transporting genetic information. Folic acid plays a key role in transcription and participates in the metabolism of cell nuclei. In fact, part of the indications that are made of the nutrient for the prevention of congenital defects, are based on this aspect.
- Development of sex cells.
- Mood regulation: several studies confirm the relationship of folic acid with the reduction of psychiatric and neurological problems, such as depression or Alzheimer’s.
How is this vitamin obtained?
Fortunately, obtaining vitamin B9 can be done with a varied and not even specific diet. There are even food supplements that help maintain or increase serum levels of folic acid.
The foods that most contain this vitamin are the following:
- Green leafy vegetables and greens.
- Fruits, especially citrus.
Benefits of folic acid in men.
The importance of ingesting folic acid in the diet of a woman of childbearing age is clear, since science has shown that adequate levels of the vitamin in the female body prevent defects in the fetus. The supplements indicated to pregnant women or those who want to be, improved the prognosis of neural tube malformations worldwide.
But we must not forget that man, even if he cannot carry a baby, must be part of the process. It does this by contributing half the DNA, from a specific cell: the sperm.
If an error occurs in the cellular development of the same, due for example to the deficiency of vitamin B9, the male DNA will be defective. This could lead to congenital malformations of the fetus, not due to maternal deficiency, but due to genetics.
In addition to the benefits provided by the aforementioned functions of folic acid, both for women and men, there are others, such as protection against cardiovascular diseases, prevention of hair loss or the appearance of gray hair and the maintenance of vital energy.
What happens if folic acid is lacking in a man?
As an essential nutrient, the benefits of folic acid in men appear when the levels are at their proper values. For this vitamin it is stipulated that we must have between 2.7 and 17 nmol/l.
In case of a deficiency or deficiency, either due to malabsorption or poor intake of foods that contain it, the problems that will appear in man will be the following:
- Anemia: Due to the decrease in the formation and growth of red blood cells. Anemic men have muscle weakness and lack of energy, as well as pale skin. Mood also changes due to the lack of proper oxygenation, so it is not unusual for one of the signs to be increased irritability.
- Diarrhea: In this case it is not clear if the symptom is due to the nutrient itself that is missing or as an association between a malabsorption syndrome and the low incorporation of folic acid.
- Ulcers and sores: Both in the mouth and in the digestive system of men, as intestinal cells are damaged and the protein protection that folic acid provides against stomach acids is diminished, injuries appear.
- Weakening or loss of hair: Being made up of proteins, the lack of folic acid causes the hair follicle to be damaged.
Are folic acid supplements in men risky?
Whenever we acquire nutrients naturally in the diet, it is protective against a multitude of diseases. However, uncontrolled supplementing can negatively affect health.
Recent studies have shown that taking folic acid from food greatly reduces the risk of prostate cancer. But, on the contrary, additional supplements increase the probability of this male oncological pathology.
What to remember about this vitamin in men?
Like any other necessary substance, folic acid is beneficial in multiple ways to maintain normal development, both in women and in men. Vitamin B9 regulates red blood cell metabolism, DNA replication, and neuronal transmission linked to moods.
When choosing how to obtain this nutrient, consult with healthcare professionals. It will always be better if a balanced diet provides it in necessary quantities. The supplement should be reserved, among men, for specific cases of proven deficiencies.