Next time you sit down to plan your meal for the week, you may want to make sure the food on your menu has plenty of folic acid (vitamin B9) and other types of B vitamins.
While both can help keep you feeling healthier and younger, New data has found that not getting enough folate and vitamins in group B can lead to cancer-related problems.
“Deficiency in certain nutrients is one of the nutritional factors involved in the initiation phase, including folate and B vitamins (B12, B6, B3), which leads to chromosomal rupture, DNA methylation deficiency, and increased sensitivity to mutagens,” according to Pedro. Carrera Bastos, PhD candidate and researcher in Nutrition, Metabolism, and Inflammation at Lund University, Sweden, who reported on the findings during his presentation “Diet and Habits in the Prevention of Cancer” held as part of the 7th International Conference of the Spanish Society for Precision Health.
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“Folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 play an essential role in methionine synthesis and DNA methylation. And when DNA methylation is altered, there is a greater chance for gene mutations and DNA damage, which can eventually lead to cancer,” Blair Persyn, MS, RDN , LDN, CNSC, Registered Dietitian and Owner of Bites With Blair, LLC Eat this not that!.
In fact, Blair explains, “because of its role in DNA methylation, folate deficiency has been associated with an increased risk of cancer.” At the same time, “some studies have also found a link between increased folic acid and an increased risk of cancer.”
That’s why Blair says it’s important to “make sure we include foods rich in folic acid in our diet without overdoing it by adding supplements higher than the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance).”
To make sure you’re doing exactly that, Blair points out, “Men and women 19 and older should aim for 400 mcg of folic acid equivalent (DFE), and pregnant women should aim for 600 mcg of DFE.” And breastfeeding women should aim for 500 mcg DFE.”
“Some of the favorite plant sources of B vitamins are legumes, leafy green vegetables, nutritional yeast, whole grains, nuts, and seeds,” says Blair. “We can ensure we get enough B vitamins by eating a balanced diet with a variety of different foods.”
To learn more about getting the nutrients you need to stay healthy, be sure to read the 9 most essential vitamins you need in your diet, according to Yale experts.
Desirée O is a freelance writer covering lifestyle news, food, and nutrition, among other topics. Read more
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