It’s an essential vitamin.
Your body needs enough of it to keep you healthy.
And your levels can drop based on how much sunshine your skin is exposed to.
I bet you’re thinking about vitamin D. But I’m actually talking about folate.
Scientists have revealed, like vitamin D ultra-violet light from the sun has an effect on our folate levels.
But NOT in the way you may suspect.
Because unlike the “sunshine vitamin,” our levels of folate can DROP during the summer… or anytime we spend MORE time in the sun.
Researchers have suspected there was a link between UV light and folate levels for some time. But a recent study has confirmed the connection.
Low folate levels can harm your health
Folate is a B vitamin. It occurs naturally in many of the foods we eat including fruits, vegetables, and seeds.
- Folate is necessary for cell division and growth.
- Your body uses it to form red and white blood cells.
- Folate is essential for making DNA, the main ingredient in our chromosomes and carrier of our genetic information.
- Vitamin C and folate pair up to break down, use, and make new proteins.
Low folate levels can cause neural tube defects and birth defects in babies. And in adults, they’re associated with heart disease and a type of anemia.
In other words, the vitamin is critical for our health and wellbeing.
Folate levels DROP during the summer
Over five years researchers examined over 100,000 patients.
They carefully tracked the volunteer’s folate levels. And an interesting pattern emerged.
Folate values were apparently following a repeated annual cycle.
Every summer the percentage of low folate values climbed by 3.5 percent when compared with the winter levels.
As scientists suspected, it appears that increased UV exposure causes folate values to drop. And for some folks that can mean that their levels fall below the 4 ng/ml minimum experts recommend.
A simple blood test can reveal if your numbers are at a healthy level.
Eat more folate-rich foods to raise your levels
But don’t worry. If you find your levels ARE low, it doesn’t mean you need to start avoiding the sun.
In fact, it’s as important as ever to get enough vitamin D producing UV light. And spending 15 to 20 minutes in the sunshine with some skin exposed should do the trick.
Instead of skipping out on the sunshine, a few easy adjustments to your diet can bump your folate levels back into the healthy zone. And it can help keep them there.
Start with diet. Eat more folate-rich foods such as…
- legumes such as beans, peas, and lentils
- leafy greens such as kale, spinach, and arugula
- Brussels sprouts
- citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes
- nuts and seeds such as walnuts and sunflower seeds
- beef liver
- wheat germ
For most folks diet alone should do the trick. But if your folate levels are still lagging, especially during the summer months, talk with your doc about taking a supplement too.