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Folic Acid Helps Hair Loss: Fact or Myth?

Find out if folic acid made the list of the many vitamins and supplements that help with hair loss.
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Introduction

Nowadays, there is myriad of different information about hair loss vitamins it is difficult to determine what is fact and what is fiction.

Determining the results can be tricky because reports can be conflicting. Aside from the fact that success or failure while using Folic acid can also depend on an individual's current health as well as their dedication to taking the supplement as needed.

There is a certain amount of trial and error that goes into trying different supplements to see what does or does not work for you.

What works for one individual may not for another but Folic acid has had good results for many hair loss sufferers and learning more about it is a good first step.

Folic Acid

Folic acid occurs naturally in the body as folate, a water-soluble vitamin also called Vitamin B9 or folacin. In this form, it is inactive and only activated in the liver by conversion to dihydrofolic acid.

Folic acid is essential to the synthesis, repair and use of DNA. For this reason, it is crucial to rapid cell division which is an essential step in human growth.

Without folic acid, the red blood cells lose their form and cannot carry their full capacity of oxygen. This quickly leads to anemia.

Folic Acid Deficiency

Folic acid is especially important to the development of infants and fetuses.

Adults rarely show a deficiency in folic acid because it is stored in considerable amounts in the body. Still, where it presents, folic acid deficiency leads to serious health complications.

Milder symptoms of folic acid deficiency include diarrhea, irritability, headaches, irregular heartbeats and swollen tongue.

More serious signs of the deficiency are fetal defects and other complications during pregnancy, anemia, nerve damage, loss of cognitive functions, mental confusion and depression.

Dietary Sources of Folic Acid

Foods with high folic acid content include leafy vegetables such as spinach and turnips; legumes such as peas and beans; egg yolks; yeast; liver and kidney.

Folic acid can also be found in moderate amounts in these fruits: orange, grapefruit, banana, cantaloupe, pineapple and strawberry.

Furthermore, certain packaged food items such as pasta, bread and cereals are fortified with folic acid.

These fortified foods and folic acid supplements are the most important source of the vitamin for most people. This is because the folic acid found in natural food sources is often lost during food preparation since the vitamin is destroyed by heat and ultraviolet light, and is also soluble in water.

Folic Acid: Daily Intake/Upper Limit
Infants   -  65-80 mcg
Ages 1-3  -  150 mcg/300 mcg
Ages 4-8  -  200 mcg/400 mcg
Ages 9-13 -  300 mcg/600 mcg
Age 14-18  -  400 mcg/800 mcg
Adult -    400 mcg/1000 mcg
Pregnant women -  600 mcg/1000 mcg
Lactating women -   500 mcg/1000mcg

The Skinny on Folic Acid 

First of all, let's review some things you may need to know about folic acid.

  • Folic acid is one of numerous essential B vitamins and is also known as B9. As you may already know, Vitamin B for hair loss is vital to hair loss prevention and hair regrowth.
  • As with many other nutritional or vitamin deficiencies, if you lack folic acid you may experience the lack of proper hair growth in the first place.
  • You can find folic acid in many foods naturally or take it as a supplement. Some foods which contain folic acid include liver, sprouts, nuts, whole wheat bread and dark green leafy vegetables.
  • Folic acid is vital to the optimum health of a woman during pregnancy. In fact, because women's hair tends to grow quicker during pregnancy, present due to prenatal vitamins. This has shown the possibility to be true since continuing to take prenatal vitamins following pregnancy may still result in hair growth. 

Folic Acid and Hair Loss

Folic acid deficiency can lead to hair loss because it is one of the many signs of a poor diet.

When the body’s store of folic acid is low, essential cellular processes decline and this leads to cell death, tissue damage, organ failure and loss of bodily functions.

Studies already show that as the level of folic acid in the body falls, red blood cells lose their forms. This is mainly due to the disruption in DNA synthesis and protein coding.

When the red blood cells are improperly formed, they cannot carry their full capacities of oxygen to other cells that need it for metabolism. The cells of the hair follicles are affected in this way.

When the number of malformed red blood cells increases, a form of anemia, macrocytic anemia, results.

Therefore, the cells of the hair follicles are affected in two ways.

First, the decline in cell metabolism means that these cells cannot keep up the rate of hair production.

Hair follicle cell division and growth are reduced especially when the cells are not adequately suffused with oxygen and nutrients. Not only the hair strands but also the scalp is affected.

Other cells such as papilla and oil-secreting cells will also be affected. This leads to a fall in the production of new hairs, graying hair as well as a sharp rise in the number of hair strands falling off.

Secondly, the anemia caused by folic acid deficiency is closely related to the one caused by iron deficiency.

This means that the cells will turn to alternative sources of energy when the nutrients and oxygen for the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) are diminished. One of these alternative energy sources is testosterone.

With increased production of testosterone is an associated rise in its conversion to DHT (dihydrotestosterone) which is known to cause androgen-related hair loss.

Therefore, folic acid deficiency starts a series of interrelated adverse effects which leads to hair loss.

So What About Hair Loss and Regrowth

To determine if the concept of folic acid and hair loss treatments is fact or fiction, you have to understand what folic acid does for the body.

  • For one thing, folic acid aids in tissue growth. It also helps the cells work properly. For this reason folic acid also helps even the scalp and hair follicles function properly. The end result is a healthy scalp and hair follicles that are able to grow a healthy head of hair.
  • Folic acid is also known to regenerate the cells that grow hair.
  • Folic acid also helps the body improve its circulation. Healthy circulation helps the skin, skin cells and hair follicles to also be healthy which leads to reduced hair loss and improved hair growth.

Supplementation and Vitamin B12

To prevent hair loss, a daily dose of 400 to 800 micrograms is recommended. Since most folic acid supplement pills irritate the stomach lining, the advice is to take them with food.

There is no risk of toxicity with folic acid since it is water-soluble and can be easily removed from the body. Still, an upper limit of 1 mg is specified.

It is generally advised to take Vitamin B12 supplements alongside folic acid pills. This is because folic acid supplementation can mask megaloblastic anemia which is indicative of Vitamin B12 deficiency.

Since folic acid does not also correct the neurological damage caused by this other deficiency, people taking folic acid supplements should regularly have their B12 levels checked or take small doses of B12 alongside.  

Things to Keep in Mind

Having a folic acid deficiency can be one of the causes of hair loss.

By keeping a healthy balance of folic acid in your body you can help prevent hair loss and eventually work towards hair regrowth.

Folic acid is part of the B Vitamin group, and is an essential part of helping with hair loss and hair regrowth.

You can use folic acid supplements or make sure you get a healthy amount of it naturally through your diet.

For most hair loss sufferers trying to use folic acid to improve their condition, a combination of both tends to work best.

Next Article: Does Vitamin H Help Thinning Hair
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