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Folic Acid (B9)


DisclaimerThis article is intended for informational purposes and is not intended to replace a one-on-one medical consultation with a professional. WLM researches and shares information and advice from our own research and advisors. We encourage every woman to research, ask questions and speak to a trusted health care professional to make her own best decisions.

What is it

Folic acid is the manufactured form of folate also known as vitamin B9. It is a water soluble vitamin necessary for synthesis (make and repair) of DNA, RNA, and maturation of Red Blood Cells.  As our body is unable to naturally produce folic acid and can only store very limited amounts, it relies on obtaining it through the food you eat on a continuous basis. Folate (the natural form of Folic Acid) can be found in green leafy vegetables (spinach, broccoli, lettuce), meats, eggs, and milk. In some countries (like the US) many processed foods will also be fortified with Folic Acid, but in most Asian countries this is not the case. It may be difficult for your body to absorb naturally occurring folate due to some digestive conditions, certain medications and/or alcohol consumption. If you are not getting sufficient folate through your diet, additional supplementation may be required and could be beneficial.

How does it help

Hot flashes and Night Sweats. In clinical studies Folic acid deficiency has been linked to a decreased level of serotonin. Hot flashes during menopause are thought to occur in part due to the imbalance between the two neurotransmitters, norepinephrine, and serotonin in the brain. Folic acid supplementation increases the synthesis of serotonin in the brain and maintains its adequate level. Folic acid also decreases the level of nor-epinephrine levels. Adequate serotonin level with decreased norepinephrine in the brain could help improve the severity and frequency of Vasomotor Symptoms you may be experiencing.

Depression. Research has linked low levels of folate to decreased brain function and an increased risk for dementia. Clinical studies have shown that taking folic acid supplements may improve brain function for people with mental impairments and may help reduce the symptoms of depression (when taken together with antidepressants.

Heart Palpitations. Folic acid supplements can only improve heart palpitation if the patient is suffering from folate deficiency anemia, otherwise, folate deficiency doesn't help in improving heart palpitation.


Folic Acid can be depleted by many medications including anti-depressants and anti-epileptics, in addition to alcohol.

Side effects

The side effects are rare, even with excess folic acid intake because it is water-soluble vitamin and is easily excreted in urine. GI upset (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea) can occur but is rare.

Scientific Evidence

Hot flashes and Night Sweats - mixed results.

A study from 2013 indicated that folic acid was effective in reducing the severity, duration, and frequency of hot flashes during menopause. However a more recent study (2021) amongst post menopausal women experiencing 50+ hot flashes weekly, did not demonstrate a statistically significant improvement. This does not mean Folic Acid won't help reduce Vasomotor symptoms, but it does mean additional and larger studies are required to confirm it.

What else you should know

Folic acid is beneficial for menopausal women for not only decreasing hot flashes and night sweats but also for preventing heart diseases. Estrogen has a cardio-protective role and with the decrease in estrogen at menopause there is an increased risk of heart disease. Some of the risks can be decreased by taking folate supplementation.

If you consume alcohol frequently, your folate requirement is higher.


What are supplements

“Supplements” is an umbrella term encompassing vitamins, minerals, and botanicals that support our body’s functions


Bani S, Hasanpour S, Farzad Rik L, Hasankhani H, Sharami SH. The effect of folic Acid on menopausal hot flashes: a randomized clinical trial. J Caring Sci. 2013 Jun 1;2(2):131-40. doi: 10.5681/jcs.2013.016. PMID: 25276719; PMCID: PMC4161099.

Merrell BJ, McMurry JP. Folic Acid. [Updated 2022 Apr 30]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from:

Young SN. Folate and depression--a neglected problem. J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2007 Mar;32(2):80-2. PMID: 17353937; PMCID: PMC1810582.

Written & Reviewed By
Dr BalKrishna Subedi
Dr BalKrishna Subedi
Women Like Me Team
Women Like Me Team
Last Updated
October 13, 2022 9:25 AM