Folic Acid is one of several vitamins (and minerals) linked to the development and growth of hair cells, follicles, and shafts. Folic Acid, also identified as Folate or Vitamin B9 is a naturally occurring water-soluble vitamin. As well as providing nourishment for hair shaft development and growth, balanced folate levels are vital for the metabolism and synthesis of rapidly dividing cells. Hair cell formation is the 2nd fasted dividing cell in humans.
Folic acid is fundemental in:
Body tissue production and regulation of the hair growth cycle.
The synthesis of keratin during the production of new DNA. One of the segments of DNA produces an abundance of keratin. The keratin produced by the hair follicle emerges from the scalp as hair – the hair growth cycle relies on the consistent production of new DNA.
The conversion of carbohydrates to glucose
Deficient or depleted levels for some folk can mean that chromosomes can become abnormal, causing larger than normal red blood cells, leading to folate deficiency anaemia.
The first few weeks of fetal development in the womb – good levels of folate prevent spina bifida and increase the chance of survival of twin conceptions.
Folate plays an essential role in amino acid metabolism and the synthesis of vitamin B12.
Folate helps keep the body’s nervous system healthy
Folic acid also helps reduce side effects from methotrexate, a medicine used to treat severe psoriasis, arthritis, or Crohn’s disease.
Low levels of folic acid have also been linked with an increased risk of depression and dementia.
Aiming for the optimal range of serum folate blood levels is a good idea for anyone suffering from hair growth concerns.
What causes depleted levels or deficiency of Serum Folate?
Insufficient intake of vitamins from your diet is uncommon but can happen if you have a poor diet for a long time.
Prescription medicine – certain medicines, including regular use of some antibiotic’s, anticonvulsants, and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), can affect how much of these vitamins your body absorbs
Pernicious anaemia – where your immune system attacks healthy cells in your stomach, preventing your body from absorbing vitamin B12 from the food you eat; this is the most common cause of vitamin B12 deficiency in the UK.
Both vitamin B12 deficiency and folate deficiency are more common in older people.
Who can’t take Folic Acid?
Most adults and children can take folic acid, but it’s not suitable for folk who have;
An allergic reaction to folic acid or any other medicine in the past.
Low vitamin B12 levels (vitamin B12 deficiency anaemia) or pernicious anaemia.
Cancer (unless you also have folate deficiency anaemia)
A type of kidney dialysis called haemodialysis.
A stent in their heart.
How much you take depends on why you need folic acid!
One of the safest ways to prevent deficiency and maintain healthy levels is by mindful intake of a diet that contains folate-rich foods. Vitamin B9 can be found in leafy green veg, avocados, broccoli, peas, chickpeas, sunflower seeds, citrus fruits, whole grains, and fortified cereals. RDI of folic acid is 200mcg. However, preparation and cooking of food items can reduce available amounts of the nutrient considerably so supplementation is generally good.
Folic acid is available on prescription from your doctor and you can buy lower dose tablets from health food shops and supermarkets. Folate/Vitamin B9 can also be combined with other vitamins and minerals (as a multivitamin and mineral supplement or with iron to treat iron-deficiency anaemia.
When resolving insufficiency intake can usually amount to 400 mcg daily if you’re healthy and suffering from hair loss with blood report evidence of low or deficient levels – or a pregnant woman, during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
For other health concerns, the dose might be 5 mg – 15 mg.
Always seek guidance about amounts from your GP or health care consultant before starting supplementation. You should avoid taking too much of any vitamin or mineral as raised levels may lead to toxicity which can cause health problems and in some folk hair loss!.