Folic acid is a B vitamin that everyone needs. Because it was originally popular for the prevention of serious neural defects, it's been a requirement by U.S. federal law to fortify foods since 1988. However, the popularity of the drug is breaking into new horizons, with bodybuilding being its latest conquest. You need to exercise care in your adoption of this drug in its new-found role, however.
Rational for Folic Acid Use
Folic acid helps in forming DNA. Proteins supply the building blocks you need to build body mass, but without folic acid, your body cannot access many of these amino-acid building blocks. As a B vitamin, folic acid is indispensable in many enzyme systems that your body needs to build the much-needed proteins. Though not an enzyme itself, folic acid supports enzymes in their work, a role referred to in medical parlance as a coenzyme. This explains why folic acid is popular among bodybuilders.
How it Works
Folic acid works with vitamin B-12 to form hemoglobin in blood, then it helps your body to build new cells from amino acid building blocks. Were it to form body mass alone, you could become a lazy mass of muscle. However, by helping to form hemoglobin, folic acid gives you increased oxygen carrying power, which is indispensable for optimum performance. This dual role makes folic acid an important part of the bodybuilding process.
When and How
In a June 2004 article in the journal Sports Medicine, researcher Charles Lambert and colleagues released detailed guidelines to help you as a bodybuilder. They gave detailed recommendations on what to eat during on and off-seasons. Their study emphasized that you need a high protein diet during off-seasons and pre-contest periods. Their study suggests high-protein diets build muscle and burn fat by generating more heat. Folic acid probably comes in useful at this point to help you benefit maximally from the high-protein diet.
Need For Caution
A November 2009 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association raised fears of a link between folic acid and cancer. You might be deceived into consuming excess folic acid on the premise that it is a water-soluble vitamin. But be warned: folic acid is an exception. Though water-soluble, it is stored in the liver, putting you at risk for toxicity if you overuse it. Always seek medical advice before using dietary supplements.