Alcohol and Folic Acid intake in Women.




Am J Epidemiol

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Folic acid is a member of the water-soluble B vitamin group. Isolated in 1946 from spinach leaves, its name comes from folium, the Latin word for leaf. In the body, folic acid is converted to a more biologically active form. Folic acid occurs in a wide variety of foods. Best sources include dark green leafy vegetables, brewer's yeast, liver and eggs. Other good sources are beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, orange juice, cabbage, cauliflower, cantaloupe, kidney and lima beans, wheat germ, and whole grain cereals and breads. The body's "friendly" intestinal bacteria also produce folic acid.

Like vitamin B12, folic acid is necessary for the production of both DNA and RNA. It is therefore essential for proper cellular division and the transmission of the genetic code to all newly formed cells. It is also essential for the health of red blood cells and the production of proteins and various amino acids.

A recent study stated that alcohol interferes with the metabolism of folic acid. This study investigated the intake of both folic acid and alcohol and the risk of chronic diseases in women. The diseases that were included were cardiovascular disease, cancer, or other non-traumatic death. In 1980, over 83,000 healthy women provided dietary data to the researchers. In the 16 years of follow-up, there were over 10,000 cases of chronic disease. After analyzing the dietary data gathered, researchers found that women who drank heavily and had low intakes of folic acid had the highest risk of chronic disease. However, the risk was nearly diminished in heavy drinkers who also had a high intake of folic acid. The authors concluded that, “adequate folate intake may be important in the primary prevention of overall major chronic disease in women, especially among younger women consuming more than two alcoholic drinks per day.”1


1. Jiang R. Joint Association of Alcohol and Folate Intake with Risk of Major Chronic Disease in Women. Am J Epidemiol. Oct 2003;158:760-771.