Also known as: B-complex vitamin, folacin, folate.
Potential uses: Folate is the generic term for B-complex vitamin. Folic acid is the manufactured form of the vitamin. Folic acid is used to stop folate deficiency. It is also thought to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, heart disease, and depression, and to improve mental agility.
Usual dose: Your dose depends on your diagnosis or condition. Folic acid is usually taken orally as part of a B-complex vitamin providing less than 400 micrograms per day.
Are there any risks? Folic acid in fortified foods and supplements in doses of less than 1,000 micrograms per day are considered safe. Doses of more than 5 milligrams per day can cause abdominal cramps and diarrhea. Large intakes of folic acid can mask a vitamin B12 deficiency.
What does the research show? Folate supplements are sometimes recommended to reduce the small possible increased risk of breast cancer associated with alcohol use; however, research shows that taking folate supplements does not lower breast cancer risk. There is no evidence to support using folic acid to reduce depression. The results of studies on folic acid and mental cognition have been inconclusive. Taking the daily recommended amount of folic acid is important for overall health and is especially important for pregnant women or women who may become pregnant. May increase colorectal cancer risk.