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Ácido fólico

¿Qué es?

El folato y el ácido fólico son formas de vitamina B soluble en agua. El folato está presente de manera natural en los alimentos, mientras que el ácido fólico es la forma sintética de esta vitamina. Desde 1998, el ácido fólico ha sido agregado a los cereales fríos, a la harina, al pan, a los fideos, a los productos de panadería, a las galletas dulces y a las galletas saladas. Los alimentos naturalmente ricos en folato incluyen las hortalizas de hojas verdes (como la espinaca, el brócoli y la lechuga), la ocra, los espárragos, las frutas (como los plátanos, los melones, y los limones), los frijoles o porotos, la levadura, las callampas, la carne (como el hígado de vacuno y los riñones), el jugo de naranja y el jugo de tomates.

El ácido fólico se utiliza tanto para la prevención y el tratamiento de los bajos niveles de folato (deficiencia de folato) como para las complicaciones que resultan, incluyendo la “sangre cansada” (anemia) y la inhabilidad del intestino de absorber los nutrientes de manera apropiada. El ácido fólico también se usa para otras afecciones comúnmente asociadas con la deficiencia de folato, incluyendo la colitis ulcerosa, la enfermedad del hígado, el alcoholismo y la diálisis renal.

Las mujeres que están embarazadas o podrían quedar embarazadas toman ácido fólico para prevenir un aborto involuntario y los “defectos del tubo neural,” defectos de nacimiento tal como la espina bífida que ocurre cuando algunos arcos vertebrales del feto no se han fusionado correctamente durante la gestación.

Algunas personas usan el ácido fólico para prevenir el cáncer de colon o el cáncer cervical. Se utiliza también para prevenir las enfermedades del corazón y los derrames cerebrales, y para reducir los niveles de una sustancia química llamada homocisteína. Altos niveles de homocisteína pueden ser un factor de riesgo para las enfermedades del corazón.

El ácido fólico se usa para la pérdida de la memoria, la enfermedad de Alzheimer, la pérdida de audición relacionada con la edad, para prevenir la enfermedad ocular llamada degeneración macular relacionada con la edad (AMD), para reducir los signos de envejecimiento, para la debilidad de los huesos (osteoporosis), para el movimiento incontrolable de las piernas (el síndrome de las piernas inquietas), para los problemas para dormir, para la depresión, los dolores de los nervios, los dolores musculares, el SIDA, para una enfermedad de la piel llamada vitiligo y para una enfermedad hereditaria llamada el síndrome X Frágil. También se utiliza para disminuir los efectos dañinos del tratamiento con los medicamentos lometrexol y metotrexato.

Algunas personas aplican el ácido fólico directamente sobre las encías para tratar las infecciones de las encías.

El ácido fólico se usa en combinación con otras vitaminas B.

¿Qué tan efectivo es?

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database (La Base Exhaustiva de Datos de Medicamentos Naturales) clasifica la eficacia, basada en evidencia científica, de acuerdo a la siguiente escala: Eficaz, Probablemente Eficaz, Posiblemente Eficaz, Posiblemente Ineficaz, Probablemente Ineficaz, Ineficaz, e Insuficiente Evidencia para Hacer una Determinación.

La clasificación de la eficacia para este producto es la siguiente:

Eficaz para...

  • Carencia de folato. La ingesta de ácido fólico mejora la carencia de folato.

Probablemente eficaz para...

  • Enfermedad renal. Alrededor de un 85% de las personas con enfermedad renal grave tienen altos niveles de homocisteína. Altos niveles de homocisteína han sido vinculados con enfermedades cardíacas y derrames cerebrales. El tomar ácido fólico baja los niveles de homocisteína en las personas con enfermedad renal grave. No obstante, los suplementos de ácido fólico no pareces reducir el riesgo de eventos relacionados con cardiopatías.
  • Altos niveles de homocisteína en la sangre (hiperhomocisteinemia). Altos niveles de homocisteína han sido vinculados con enfermedades cardíacas y derrames cerebrales. La ingesta de ácido fólico disminuye los niveles de homocisteína en un 20-30% en personas con niveles de homocisteína normales a levemente altos. Se recomienda a personas con niveles de homocisteína mayores a 11 micromoles por litro complementar con ácido fólico y vitamina B12.
  • Disminuir los efectos dañinos de un medicamento llamado metotrexato. El tomar ácido fólico parece reducir las náuseas y los vómitos que son los posibles efectos secundarios del tratamiento con el metotrexato.
  • Defectos de nacimiento (defectos del tubo neural). La ingesta de grandes cantidades de folato en la dieta y de suplementos de ácido fólico durante el embarazo ayuda a reducir el riesgo de malformaciones congénitas del tubo neural.

Posiblemente eficaz para...

  • Pérdida de visión relacionada con la edad (degeneración macular relacionada con la visión). Cierta investigación muestra que la ingesta de ácido fólico con vitaminas incluidas las vitaminas B6 y B12 reducen el riesgo de desarrollar pérdida de la visión relacionada con la edad.
  • Depresión. La investigación limitada sugiere que la ingesta de ácido fólico con antidepresivos parece mejorar los síntomas en personas con depresión.
  • Hipertensión arterial. La investigación sugiere que la ingesta diaria de ácido fólico al menos durante 6 semanas reduce la presion arterial en personas con hipertensión arterial. No obstante, la ingesta de ácido fólico con medicamentos para la tensión arterial no parece disminuir la tensión arterial más que la ingesta de medicamentos solamente.
  • Problemas en las encías debido a un medicamento llamado fenitoina. La aplicación de ácido fólico en las encías parece prevenir los problemas en las encías casado por la fenitoina. No obstante, la ingesta de ácido fólico no parece mejorar los síntomas de esta condición.
  • Enfermedad de las encías durante el embarazo. La aplicación de ácido fólico en las encías parece mejorar los síntomas de la enfermedad de las encías durante el embarazo.
  • Trastorno de pigmentación de la piel llamado vitiligo. La ingesta de ácido fólico parece mejorar los síntomas del vitiligo.

Posiblemente ineficaz para...

  • Cáncer de glóbulos blancos (leucemia linfoblástica aguda). La ingesta de folato durante el embarazo no reduce el riesgo de cáncer de glóbulos blancos en la niñez.
  • Cáncer de mama. Consumir folato en la dieta podría disminuir el riesgo de desarrollar cáncer de mama en mujeres que también consumen grandes cantidades de metionina, vitamina B12 (cianobalamina) o vitamina B6 (piridoxina), sin embargo la investigación no es consistente. Otra investigación sugiere que la ingesta de suplementos de ácido fólico de manera aislada no disminuye el riesgo de cancer de mama.
  • Cardiopatía. La investigación sugiere que la ingesta de ácido fólico de manera aislada o con vitamina B6 (piridoxina) y la vitamina B12 no reduce el riesgo de muerte o eventos relacionados con cardiopatia en perdonas con cardiopatia.
  • Síndrome de fatiga crónica. Las inyecciones diarias de ácido fólico parecen no tener efecto sobre los síntomas del síndrome de fatiga crónica.
  • Intoxicación con medicamento lometrexol. La ingesta de ácido fólico no parece reducir los efectos nocivos del lometrexol.
  • Cáncer de próstata. Los niveles de ácio fólico en la sangre no parecen estar vinculados con el riesgo de desarrollar cancer de próstata.
  • Accidente cerebrovascular. La investigación sugiere que las personas que ingieren grandes cantidades de folato en la dieta presentan menos riesgo de sufrir un accidente cerebrovascular debido a la ruptura de los vasos sanguíneos (accidente cerebrovascular hemorrágico). No obstante, el ácido fólico no parece reducir el riesgo de accidente cerebrovascular debido a coágulos sanguíneos (accidente cerebrovascular isquémico).

Probablemente ineficaz para...

  • Tratamiento de una enfermedad hereditaria llamada síndrome X Frágil. La ingesta de ácido fólico no parece mejorar los síntomas del síndrome X frágil.

Insuficiente evidencia para hacer una determinación para...

  • Enfermedad de Alzheimer. La evidencia limitada sugiere que los ancianos que consumen más ácido fólico que el aporte dietético recomendado (ADR/RDA) parecen presentar menos riesgo de desarrollar la enfermedad de Alzheimer que las personas que consumen menos ácido fólico.
  • Prevenir una nueva obstrucción de los vasos sanguíneos después de una angioplastia. Existe evidencia inconsistente sobre los beneficios de la ingesta de ácio fólico después de un procedimiento para dilatar los vasos sanguíneos. El tomar ácido fólico más vitamina B6 y vitamina B12 podría de hecho interferir con la curación en los casos en que un dispositivo (stent) se inserta en el vaso sanguíneo para mantenerlo abierto.
  • Trastorno bipolar. La ingesta de ácido fólico no parece mejorar los efectos antidepresivos del litio en personas con trastornos de bipolaridad. No obstante, la ingesta de folato con el medicamento valproato mejora los efectos del valproato.
  • Cáncer de cuello de útero. Existe cierta evidencia de que una mayor ingesta de ácido fólico en la dieta y en fuentes de suplementos junto on tiamina, riboflavina y vitamina B12 podría ayudar a prevenir el cáncer de cuello de útero.
  • Memoria y agilidad mental en personas de edad avanzada. Hay evidencia conflictiva sobre el rol del ácido fólico en la disminución de la memoria con la edad y la agilidad mental. Cierta investigación muestra que la ingesta de ácido fólico podría mejorar la función mental en personas en edad avanzada. No obstante, otra investigación sugiere que no presenta beneficios.
  • Cáncer colorrectal. Otra investigación sugiere que la ingesta de ácido fólico como suplemento o en la dieta disminuye el riesgo de desarrollar cancer colorectal. No obstante, la evidencia es contradictoria.
  • Diabetes. La ingesta de suplementos de ácido fólico no presenta resultados positivos en personas con diabetes.
  • Epilepsia. La ingesta de ácido fólico no reduce los episodios de convulsiones en personas con epilepsia.
  • Cáncer de esófago. Otra investigación sugiere que una mayor ingesta de folato en la dieta disminuye el riesgo de desarrollar cáncer de esófago.
  • Grandes cantidades de homocisteína en la sangre causada por un medicamento llamado fenofibrato. La ingesta de ácido folato día por medio podría reducir los niveles de homocisteína en la sangre causada por un medicamento llamado fenofibrato.
  • Cáncer de estómago. La investigación sugiere que la ingesta de ácido fólico reduce el riesgo de desarrollar ciertos tipos de cáncer de estómago.
  • Gota. Cierta investigación preliminar sugiere que el folato podría reducir el riego de gota.
  • Pérdida de la audición. Los bajos niveles de folato en la sangre parecen estar ligados con la pérdida de la audición repentina en adultos. Cierta evidencia sugiere que la ingesta diaria de ácido fólico durante tres años disminuye el deterioro de pérdida de la audición en personas en edad avanzada con bajos niveles de folato. No es claro si los suplementos de ácido fólico reducen la pérdida de la audición en personas con niveles normales de folato.
  • Infertilidad masculina. Algunas investigaciones sugieren que el tomar diariamente ácido fólico y sulfato de zinc puede aumentar el recuento de espermas en los hombres que tienen una cantidad baja de espermas.
  • Cáncer del pulmón. No parece haber una relación entre los niveles bajos de ácido fólico y el cáncer del pulmón en la mayoría de las personas.
  • Medicamentos usados para el dolor de pecho funcionan durante más tiempo. Cierta evidencia sugiere que la ingesta de ácido fólico no prolonga el beneficio de los medicamentos para el dolor de peso (nitratos).
  • Paladar hendido. Cierta investigación sugiere que la ingesta de ácido fólico durante el embarazo disminuye el riesgo de paladar hendido. No obstante, otra investigación muestra la inexistencia de algún efecto.
  • Cáncer de páncreas. La ingesta diaria de más 280 mcg en la dieta está vinculada con una disminución del riesgo de desarrollar cáncer de páncreas. Sin embargo, otra investigación sugiere que la ingesta de folato no está vinculada al riesgo de cáncer de páncreas.
  • Síndrome de las piernas inquietas. El tomar ácido fólico parece reducir los síntomas del síndrome de las piernas inquietas. Los investigadores están estudiando si es posible que una deficiencia de ácido fólico produce el síndrome de las piernas inquietas.
  • Anemia drepanocítica. La ingesta de ácido fólico podría disminuir los niveles de homocisteína. Sin embargo, no está claro si esto resultaría beneficioso en personas con anemia drepanocítica.
  • Cáncer debido a una enfermedad llamada colitis ulcerosa. La investigación preliminar sugiere que la ingesta de ácido fólico podría ayudar a evitar que las personas con colitis ulcerosa contraigan cáncer.
  • Enfermedad hepática..
  • Alcoholismo.
  • Debilidad de los huesos.
  • Otras afecciones.
Se necesita más evidencia para aprobar al ácido fólico para estos usos.

¿Cómo funciona?

El ácido fólico ese necesario para el desarrollo normal del cuerpo humano. Está involucrado en la producción del material genético llamado ADN y participa en numerosas funciones corporales.

¿Hay preocupación por la seguridad de su uso?

El ácido fólico es PROBABLEMENTE SEGURO cuando se lo ingiere o se lo inyecta en el cuerpo. La mayoría de los adultos no presenta efectos secundarios si consume dosis menores a 1000 mcg por día.

El ácido fólico NO ES POSIBLEMENTE SEGURO cuando se lo ingiere en grandes dosis por tiempo prolongado. Altas dosis de ácido fólico podrían producir calambres abdominales, diarrea, erupciones, trastornos del sueño, irritabilidad, confusión, nausea, molestias estomacales, cambios en el comportamiento, reacciones en la piel, convulsiones, gas, excitabilidad y otros efectos secundarios.

Investigaciones preliminares sugieren que el ácido fólico podría aumentar el riesgo de un ataque al corazón en las personas que tienen problemas cardiacos. Otras investigaciones preliminares sugieren que dosis altas de ácido fólico podrían aumentar el riesgo de cáncer. Hay también la preocupación de que el tomar grandes cantidades de una multivitamina además de un suplemento de ácido fólico podría aumentar las posibilidades de desarrollar cáncer de la próstata en los hombres.

Advertencias y precauciones especiales:

Embarazo y lactancia: El ácido fólico es PROBABLEMENTE SEGURO cuando se lo ingiere de manera apropiada durante el embarazo o la lactancia. La ingesta diaria de 300-400 mcg de ácido fólico es comúnmente usada durante el embarazo para prevenir malformaciones congénitas.

Procedimientos para dilatar arterias obstruidas (angioplastia): El consumo de ácido fólico, vitamina B6 y vitamina B12 por via intravenosa (VI) o por via oral podría empeorar la obstrucción de las arterias. El ácido fólico no debería usarse por personas que han sido sometidos a este procedimiento.

Cáncer: La investigación preliminar sugiere que la ingesta diaria de 800-1000 mcg de ácido fólico podría aumentar el riesgo de cáncer. Hasta tanto se tenga más información, las personas con antecedentes de cáncer deberían evitar el consumo de altas dosis de ácido fólico.

Cardiopatía: La investigación preliminar sugiere que la ingesta de ácido fólico más vitamina B6 podría aumentar el riesgo de cardiopatia en personas con antecedentes de cardiopatia.

Anemia causada por carencia de vitamina B12: La ingesta de ácido fólico podría ocultar los síntomas de la anemia causada por carencia de vitamina B12 y demorar el tratamiento apropiado.

Trastorno convulsivo: La ingesta de suplementos de ácido fólico podría empeorar las convulsiones en personas con trastornos convulsivos particularmente en altas dosis.

¿Existen interacciones con medicamentos?

Moderadas
Tenga cuidado con esta combinación
5-Fluorouracil
Hay preocupación de que el tomar grandes cantidades de ácido fólico con 5-fluorouracil podría aumentar los efectos secundarios del 5-fluorouracil, especialmente los problemas estomacales. Antes de tomar ácido fólico, converse con su proveedor de atención médica.
Capecitabine (Xeloda)
Hay preocupación de que el tomar grandes cantidades de ácido fólico podría aumentar los efectos secundarios de capecitabine, especialmente los problemas estomacales como la diarrea y los vómitos. Antes de tomar ácido fólico, converse con su proveedor de atención médica.
Fenitoina (Dilantin)
El cuerpo descompone la fenitoina (Dilantin) para eliminarla. El ácido fólico puede aumentar la rapidez con que el cuerpo descompone la fenitoina (Dilantin). El tomar ácido fólico y fenitoina (Dilantin) podría disminuir la eficacia de la fenitoina (Dilantin) y aumentar las posibilidades de tener convulsiones.
Fenobarbital (Luminal)
El fenobarbital (Luminal) se usa para prevenir las convulsiones. El tomar ácido fólico puede disminuir lo bien que funciona el fenobarbital (Luminal) para prevenir las convulsiones.
Fosfenitoina (Cerebyx)
La fosfenitoina (Cerebyx) se usa para prevenir las convulsiones. El cuerpo descompone la fosfenitoina (Cerebyx) para eliminarla. El ácido fólico puede aumentar la rapidez con que el cuerpo descompone la fosfenitoina (Cerebyx). El tomar ácido fólico junto con fosfenitoina (Cerebyx) podría disminuir la eficacia de la fosfenitoina (Cerebyx) para prevenir las convulsiones.
Metotrexato (MTX, Rheumatrex)
El metotrexato (MTX, Rheumatrex) funciona disminuyendo los efectos del ácido fólico en las células del cuerpo. El tomar tabletas de ácido fólico junto con metotrexato podría disminuir la eficacia del metotrexato (MTX, Rheumatrex).
Pirimetamina (Daraprim)
La pirimetamina (Daraprim) se usa para el tratamiento de las infecciones con parásitos. El ácido fólico podría disminuir la eficacia de pirimetamina (Daraprim) para el tratamiento de las infecciones con parásitos.
Primidona (Mysoline)
La primidona (Mysoline) se usa para prevenir las convulsiones. El ácido fólico podría producir convulsiones en algunas personas. El tomar ácido fólico junto con primidona (Mysoline) podría disminuir lo bien que funciona la primidona para prevenir las convulsiones.

¿Existen interacciones con hierbas y suplementos?

Té verde
Hay un poco de preocupación de que el té verde podría interferir con el funcionamiento del ácido fólico en el cuerpo. Esto podría llevar a una condición que es similar a la deficiencia de ácido fólico.

¿Existen interacciones con alimentos?

Alimentos
El tomar ácido fólico junto con alimentos reduce en forma leve su absorción, pero probablemente no lo suficiente para que sea importante.
Zinc
Los investigadores no están de acuerdo si el ácido fólico interfiere o no con la absorción de zinc. Pero para las personas que obtienen suficiente zinc en la dieta, el efecto del ácido fólico probablemente no es importante.

¿Qué dosis se utiliza?

Las siguientes dosis han sido estudiadas en investigaciones científicas:

POR VIA ORAL:
  • Para la deficiencia de ácido fólico: la dosis típica es de 250-1000 mcg (microgramos) por día.
  • Para la prevención de defectos del tubo neural: las mujeres que pueden quedar embarazadas deben tomar por lo menos 400 mcg de ácido fólico por día, ya sea de suplementos o alimentos fortificados, y continuar por el primer mes de embarazo. Las mujeres con un historial de embarazos previos con complicaciones por defectos del tubo neural generalmente toman 4 mg por día empezando un mes antes de quedar embarazadas y continuando por 3 meses.
  • Para disminuir el riesgo de cáncer del colon: 400 mcg por día.
  • Para el tratamiento de niveles elevados de homocisteína en la sangre:
    • Se ha usado 0.5-5 mg (miligramos) por día, pero parece que 0.8-1 mg por día es más efectivo.
    • En las personas con enfermedad renal terminal, los niveles altos de homocisteína son más difíciles de tratar, y se han usado dosis de 0.8-15 mg por día. También se han usado dosis de 2.5-5 mg tres veces a la semana. Las dosis mayores de 15 mg no parecen ser más eficaces.
  • Para mejorar la respuesta a los medicamentos para la depresión: se ha usado 200-500 mcg diarios.
  • Para el vitiligo: típicamente se toma 5 mg dos veces al día.
  • Para la reducción de la toxicidad asociada con la terapia con metotrexato para la artritis reumática o para la psoriasis: 1 mg al día es probablemente suficiente, pero se puede usar hasta 5 mg por día.
  • Para prevenir la degeneración macular: se toma 2.5 mg de ácido fólico, 1000 mcg de vitamina B12 (cianocobalamina) y 50 mg de vitamina B6 (piridoxina) una vez al día.
La ingesta adecuada (AI) para los infantes son 65 mcg para los infantes de 0-6 meses y 80 mcg para los infantes de 7-12 meses de edad. La ingesta diaria recomendada (RDA) para el folato en DFE ( equivalente dietético de folato), incluyendo tanto el folato como el ácido fólico de los alimentos enriquecidos y de los suplementos es: Para los niños de 1-3 años, 150 mg; Para los niños de 4-8 años, 200 mcg; Para los niños de 9-13 años 300 mcg. Para los adultos mayores de 13 años, 400 mcg; Para las mujeres embarazada 600 mcg; Para las mujeres amamantando, 500 mcg. El nivel máximo tolerable (UL) de folato es de 300 mcg para los niños de 1-3 años, 400 mcg para los niños de 4-8 años, 600 mcg para los niños de 9-13 años, 800 mcg para los adolescentes de 14-18 años, y 1000 mcg para todos los mayores de 18 años.

Otros nombres

5'-methyltetrahydrofolate, 5'-MTHF, Acide Folique, Acide Ptéroylglutamique, Acide Ptéroylmonoglutamique, B Complex Vitamin, Complexe de Vitamines B, Complexe Vitaminique B, Dihydrofolate, Folacin, Folacine, Folate, Folinic Acid, L-methylfolate, Methylfolate, Méthylfolate, Pteroylglutamic Acid, Pteroylmonoglutamic Acid, Pteroylpolyglutamate, Tetrahydrofolate, Tétrahydrofolate, Vitamin B9, Vitamine B9.

Metodología

Para saber más sobre cómo este artículo fue escrito, refiérase a la metodología de la Base exhaustiva de datos de medicamentos naturales.

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