What Factors Affect Folic Acid Absorption?

N. Madison
N. Madison

There are a few factors that affect folic acid absorption, including the form of supplementation a person chooses, though differences in the rate of absorption can be slight. Also, cooking foods that contain folate, the form of folic acid naturally found in food, can destroy some of the nutrient and affect the amount the body absorbs. Heavy drinking, oral birth control medications, and a poor diet can have adverse effects as well. On the other hand, vitamins C and B12 can increase the rate at which the nutrient is absorbed.

Legumes contain folic acid.
Legumes contain folic acid.

One of the factors that affects folic acid absorption is the manner in which it is taken. There may be slight variations in absorption based on whether folic acid supplements are taken as gel capsules, powders, tablets, or in another form. The rate of absorption from food sources, however, can be altered based on the method of preparation, as exposure to heat from cooking can destroy this nutrient. Likewise, exposure to the air can reduce the amount a person's body absorbs.

Folic acid supplements can be taken in powder form.
Folic acid supplements can be taken in powder form.

Alcohol intake can also have an effect on folic acid absorption. When a person over-consumes alcoholic beverages, this can result in decreased folic acid absorption. It can also affect how much of the vitamin is expelled from his body. Alcoholic beverages probably won't adversely affect absorption in a person who drinks occasionally or in moderation. Instead, this effect is usually a problem for people who drink heavily on a regular basis.

Women on birth control pills may need to take folic acid supplements.
Women on birth control pills may need to take folic acid supplements.

Often, health experts recommend taking folic acid with other vitamins in order to maximize absorption. Vitamin C and B12, for example, are said to help increase the body's absorption of this nutrient. This doesn't mean, however, that a person has to take another supplement to boost absorption. Instead, an individual can get vitamin C and B12 from a food source. For example, many people take folic acid along with fortified orange juice to ensure that the body can absorb and use more of it.

Some types of birth control can also affect the body's folic acid absorption. Usually, this problem is caused by oral contraceptives many women take. Since folic acid is important for overall health, a concerned woman may do well to consult her doctor about taking supplements to counteract the effects of the birth control pills.

A poor diet can also affect folic acid absorption. When a person does not get enough of the other B vitamins, for instance, this can interfere with his absorption of folate from food. Additionally, insufficient protein intake can have an adverse effect on the body's ability to absorb and use folate.

Pregnant women are advised to take folic acid supplements to reduce the risk of birth defects.
Pregnant women are advised to take folic acid supplements to reduce the risk of birth defects.
N. Madison
N. Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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