The commonest reason why people take folic acid supplements (Vitamin B12) in Kenya is only after the doctor prescribes them, especially to pregnant women or those trying to conceive.
But this shouldn't be the only case... there are more. Are you one of them?
Prenatal care is incredibly important for health and well-being, especially in developing countries such as Kenya where food alone is not enough.
Prenatal vitamins are crucial for expectant mothers to consume, of which folic acid is a key component that studies have shown that folic acid is essential for a healthy baby's growth and development.
The World Health Organisation recommends pregnant women take at least 400 mcg of folic acid per day.
Who needs Folic Acid Supplements?
1. Diabetics taking Metformin (Glucophage): This drug blocks the absorption of folic acid in the stomach in the majority of patients. Such individuals should supplement with Methyl Folate or any form of optimized folic acid.
2. People with high levels of a certain chemical in their blood (hyperhomocysteinemia) are more likely to have heart disease or stroke.
Taking folic acid can lower the levels of this chemical in people who have normal or high levels of it, as well as in people with kidney failure.
3. Neural tube defects are a serious issue for both the mother and child.
A pregnant woman or trying to conceive should consume 600-800 mcg of folic acid daily to reduce her chances of having one of these birth defects, which food alone might not be enough without supplements.
Some people who carry an increased risk require up 4500 micrograms per day (4000 + 500) as their amount may not be enough on its own.
4. Folic acid is the most effective way to maintain a healthy brain as we age.
Studies show that it may help improve memory and thinking skills in people who have larger declines than expected at older ages, by improving blood flow throughout your body's systems and promoting cell growth within crucial regions of gray matter where memories are formed!
5. People taking more than 2 beers a day or 14 beers a week, even if in a single sitting. Alcohol impairs the absorption of folic acid requiring supplementation.
Without supplementation, this group suffers sluggish memory, and lack of motivation and may develop tingling sensation on their feet