Folic Acid, Vitamin B12, and Mental Health: Exploring the Link
When we hear the name, "Folic Acid" we immediately think of its influence on healthy pregnancy or its impact on preventing birth defects. What if I tell you it is so much more than that?
Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid are two of the eight B Vitamins that are water soluble and are therefore used as supplements to complement your diet. These Vitamins support liver function, improve hair and skin, and most importantly support the nervous system i.e. your brain. There are common misconceptions when it comes to how and where Folic Acid comes from and what differentiates between the two B Vitamins. Unlike B12, Folic Acid is a synthetic form of folate which is a water soluble Vitamin. Because of its nature, it is not found naturally and is used as a supplement or added to manufactured foods. Whereas B12 is found in leafy greens, meat, and fruits. But, putting aside their differences they are combined to perform something significant that has a huge impact on your mental health.
Brain Boosting Potential of the Two Vitamins
According to the World Health Association, approximately 280 million people suffer from depression. Nutritional deficiencies can have a significant impact on mental health.
Folate plays a huge role in the production of neurotransmitters (Chemical messengers that your body can not function without) serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Dopamine and Serotonin are called the happy hormones that our brain releases which give us a sense of temporary pleasure and a long-lasting feeling of happiness respectively. According to one study, those with low folate levels had a higher risk of anxiety symptoms such as restlessness, concern, and trouble focusing. Using Folic Acid tablet can help improve anxiety and depressive symptoms.
Vitamin B12 keeps your nerve cells healthy and plays a huge role in the production of neurotransmitters just like folate. It works in impressive ways and is known to help prevent heart diseases, boost immunity, and improve your memory. Research suggests that a deficiency in B12 results in loss of memory. Therefore, consuming the right amounts of this vitamin can play a role in preventing brain atrophy which, simply put, is called loss of neurons that cause Dementia and memory problems, especially in adults.
Incorporating B12+ Folic Acid into Your Lifestyle
Vitamin B12 is naturally found in animals. Consuming leafy greens, legumes, fish, poultry like eggs, and dairy products can help increase its levels in your body naturally. It is suggested by experts to use B12 supplements for pregnant women and nursing mothers since they are at a higher risk of deficiency.
Add Folic acid to your diet through fortified cereals or supplements rich in it. Folic Acid works great paired with other B vitamins so a balanced intake of B-complex such as B12 is essential for complete cognitive support. Research has shown that incorporating these two can improve cognitive abilities.
Balance is Key
It is important to remember that balance is always the key. Too much of anything is not good for your health therefore, look for the right balance of diet and supplements before adding it to your routine. Mental disorders are a serious health issue and should not be ignored or taken lightly so do not solely depend on just the nutritional aspect of improvement and get the professional help you need to get better. These vitamins are great for mental health but I cannot stress enough that balance is also crucial. Always seek the advice of a medical practitioner to ascertain your specific dietary requirements.
Nourish your mind and body and love yourself. Only you can do that for yourself. Small changes lead to significant impacts. Let's set out on this road to strengthen our minds and bodies whether it be through dietary changes or specific supplementation, knowing that every step we take in the direction of mental well-being is a step towards a happier, more colorful life.
Remember! Your struggles do not define you and it is okay not to be okay sometimes.