Q: What is folic acid?
A: Folic acid is a nutrient also known as folate or vitamin B-9. It is used for the production, repair and functioning of your body's DNA. Folic acid helps break down homocysteine.

Q: What is homocysteine?
A: Homocysteine is an amino acid in the blood that is regulated by folic acid.   Elevated homocysteine levels have been linked to birth defects, blood clots, heart problems and other serious conditions. 

Q: What heart problems are elevated homocysteine levels related to?
A: The American Heart Association reports that elevated homocysteine levels are related to a higher risk of:

  • coronary heart disease
  • stroke
  • peripheral vascular disease (fatty deposits in the peripheral arteries)
  • atherosclerosis (fatty deposits in blood vessels)

Q: If I am at high risk for heart disease will my physician screen for homocysteine levels, along with my blood pressure and cholesterol?
A: Screening homocysteine levels maybe helpful for patients who have a family history of heart disease yet do not exhibit other risk factors.

Q: How much folic acid should I get a day?
A: People should get enough folic acid, B-6 and B-12 vitamins in their diet, about 400 micrograms (mcg) per day.

Q: What foods are good sources of folic acid?
A: Good sources include whole grains and legumes such as lentils and chickpeas. Dark greens such as collards, asparagus and broccoli and fruit like papaya, strawberries and oranges are also good sources.

Q: Should I take folic acid supplements?
A: Take supplements only if you are not able to get enough folic acid from your daily diet or if your physician recommends it.

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