Vitamin Deficiency Puts You at Risk for Cancer

Health Alert 212

It’s surprising how not getting enough of one little vitamin can result in deadly cancer. But studies show it’s true. I’m talking about folate.

You may currently overlook this vitamin because it has a reputation as a nutrient for pregnant women. What you haven’t heard is the link between folate deficiency and cancer. New evidence continues to show that improving folate levels can protect against a dozen different cancers.

* The Cancer Connection *

Folate is part of the B-complex vitamin family. You probably know it best in its supplement form, folic acid. Folate is the form found in food. Folate plays a key role in the functioning of DNA. But scientists recently discovered that deficiencies in folic acid damage DNA in a way that’s similar to cancer.

As it turns out, a deficiency in folate can result in cancers of the cervix, breast, uterus, lung and pancreas. Folate supplementation can suppress growth of colon cancer. So how do you know how much folate is enough to protect yourself?

* Folate & Folic Acid in Your Diet *

To get this cancer protection you need about 400 micrograms of folate each day. The best natural sources of folate are vegetables. Vegetables with the highest folate content are dark, leafy greens like spinach, kale and romaine lettuce. Your body only absorbs half of the folate you consume. It may be difficult to absorb cancer-protecting quantities from a typical modern diet so a supplement is a very good idea.

Most multi-vitamins contain folic acid. Check yours to make sure it has at least 400 micrograms. You can also get folic acid supplements in liquid and capsule form at your local health food store. You should be certain to take these if you’ve had cancer or are at risk.


Sears MD

Greenwood-Robins, Maggie Ph.D. Foods That Combat Cancer, Avon Books, 2004. p 27 – 29.

Stover PJ, “Physiology of folate and vitamin B12 in health and disease” Nutr Rev. 2004 Jun;62 (6 Pt 2):S3-12; discussion S13.

Kim Yi. “Folate and DNA methylation: a mechanistic link between folate deficiency and colorectal cancer?” Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2004 Apr;13(4):511-9.