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Folic Acid May Help Heal Spinal Cord and Brain Injuries

  • Published: 2010-04-26 (Revised/Updated 2012-04-22) : Author: Journal of Clinical Investigation
  • Synopsis: Understanding how folic acid might help heal brain and spinal cord injuries.
Folic Acid
Folic Acid - Also known as folate or folacin when it naturally occurs in foods, is a B vitamin that is essential for the healthy development of a baby's spine, brain and skull during the early weeks of pregnancy. All people need folic acid. But folic acid is very important for women who are able to get pregnant. Folic acid is found naturally in some foods, including leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, beans (legumes), and whole grains. Enriched breads, cereals and other grain products also contain folic acid. If you don't get enough folic acid from the foods you eat, you can also take it as a dietary supplement.

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Understanding how folic acid might help heal brain and spinal cord injuries.

Babies born to women who do not consume enough folic acid (sometimes referred to as folate or vitamin B9) are at high risk of developing neural tube defects (i.e., defects in the development of the spinal cord or brain).

This is the reason underlying the recommendation that women who are pregnant take a folic acid supplement.

A team of researchers, led by Bermans Iskandar, at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, has now generated data in rodents suggesting that folic acid might also help promote healing in injured brain and spinal cord. Specifically, the team was able to uncover a molecular pathway by which folate can promote nerve cell regeneration following injury in rodents.

In an accompanying commentary, Matthias Endres and Golo Kronenberg, at Charite - Universitatsmedizin Berlin, Germany, discuss how these data, together with the safety and simplicity of folate supplementation, provide a rationale for testing whether folate supplementation is beneficial for patients with spinal cord and brain trauma.

TITLE: Folate regulation of axonal regeneration in the rodent central nervous system through DNA methylation

Bermans J. Iskandar
University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, USA.
Phone: 608.263.9651; Fax: 608.263.1728; E-mail:

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TITLE: Neuronal injury: folate to the rescue

Matthias Endres
Charite - Universitatsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany.
Phone: 49.30.450.560.102; Fax: 49.30.450.560.932; E-mail:

View this article at:

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1 : Exploring Upper Limb Dysfunction After Spinal Cord Injury : Kessler Foundation.
2 : Spinal Cord Injury Recovery Can Be Predicted : University of Zurich.
3 : Bowel Care Top Concern for People with Spinal Cord Injury : Simon Fraser University.
4 : Human Neural Stem Cell Grafts Used to Repair Spinal Cord Injuries in Monkeys : University of California - San Diego.
5 : How the Human Brain Can Tell Our Arms and Legs Apart : Salk Institute.
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