A study of 386 Swedish adolescents aged 15-years suggests that a high intake of folic acid supplements improves young people’s achievement in school. The result is independent of socioeconomic status.
The background for the study is that we are vulnerable to high levels of the harmful substance homocysteine in the blood, which among others can lead to reduced cognitive functions. Our body produces homocysteine as a result of normal metabolism, but if we get enough vitamin B2, B6, B12 and in particular of folic acid, homocysteine transforms into healthy amino acids. The study measures the levels of homocysteine in the young peoples blood, and they would perform interviews to assess dietary levels of folate. They would then measure 10 of the young people's academic performances after nine years of schooling. Details of current health status, lifestyle, including smoking and familial, educational and economic status was collected using a questionnaire.
It was important to statistically analyse the girls and boys separately. The girls showed better academic results than boys. This was due to the teaching method being more suitable for the girls. The boys had, despite a higher intake of folate also higher homocysteine levels than girls. Smoking did not affect homocysteine levels, but as expected smokers did perform worse than non-smokers. If the mother had a good education this was a positive influence on student academic achievement. On the other hand mother’s income and father’s education did not affect the result. It also helped the student to go to a good school.
Overall, the results show that students’ academic performance was significantly better with low homocysteine in the blood and a high intake of folic acid. Both students and their parents should know about this research result, which is also worthwhile to include in the debate about school meal provisions.
About Folic Acid
The B vitamin Folic acid also goes by the name folate. Folic acid is a fragile vitamin; even light and heat destroy it. In the diet folic acids can be found in green vegetables, some fruit, beans, nuts, almonds, whole grains, meat and fish. The vitamin is probably best known for its ability to prevent congenital malformations of the brain and spinal cord of expectant mothers.
The EFSA is the EU agency for food safety. They are very critical concerning what we can achieve by using dietary supplements such that folic acid. Yet they recognize that folic acid is important for normal metabolism of homocysteine in the body, for our mental functioning, for normal cell division in the body, for a normal pregnancy, for our immune system, for normal blood formation and the formation of amino acids in the body and not least that it can help to reduce fatigue and exhaustion.
Good sources of folic acid from Pharma Nord
- Bio-MultiVitamin and Mineral Pharma Nord includes a complex of B vitamins including 200 micrograms of folic acid.
- Bio-Marine Plus. Two capsules daily provide 200mg folic acid and also essential omega-3 fatty acids; which also benefits the brain function.
RefNilsson TK, et al. High Folate Intake Is Related to Better Academic Achievement in Adolescents svensk. Pedriatrics the 2011th E-pub ahead of print.