Folate levels decrease depending on sun exposure, study says


05 Feb 2019 --- Folate levels decrease during the months when solar radiation is higher and ultraviolet radiation proportionately affects folate levels in the blood. This is according to University of Malaga researchers, who have determined a seasonal risk threshold for people with folate deficiency in the blood. The team has developed a mobile app to determine sensitivity to sunlight depending on folate levels and suggests folate supplementation during the summer months to keep its levels balanced.

“There is a significant percentage of people with low levels of folate during winter. Their folate levels decrease significantly in spring and summer so there is a seasonal risk level that requires special attention to these patients. We recommend supplementation to prevent the levels of folate from dropping significantly in the warmer months,” researcher José Aguilera tells NutritionInsight

The study examined over 100,000 patients from hospitals across Malaga for five years and was carried out in the Laboratory of Dermatological Photobiology of UMA, located in the Spanish Center for Medical and Health Research (CIMES).

Click to Enlarge“We have revealed that cycles repeat annually. The percentage of low values increases in summer by almost 3.5 percent in comparison to winter,” Aguilera says. He adds that folate levels are higher in women than in men, regardless of the season. 

During the summer months, patients with folate levels under 4ng/mL should increase their consumption of green vegetables and other folate-rich foods or take supplementation to balance the effect of ultraviolet radiation, the researchers suggest.

Folate, or vitamin B9, is crucial for cell division and growth. Low levels of folate are linked to various conditions such as megaloblastic anemia, neural tube defects (NTD) and cardiovascular diseases. It is an important vitamin as it prevents congenital disorders in newborns, rendering it important for pregnant women as well. 

Photobiology in favor of skin protection
The researchers have been working since 2006 on photoprotection and the relationship between the skin and sunlight.

Other R&D lines include the study of the positive effects of vitamin D in preventing certain diseases, such as digestive and cardiovascular diseases, or the development of more efficient and long-lasting sunscreens, which are based on synthetic compounds but inspired by marine algae.

The laboratory has also developed a mobile app, called UV-DERMA, that informs people on how long their skin can tolerate sun exposure. It is the brainchild of researchers María Victoria de Gálvez and José Aguilera in Click to Enlargecollaboration with Fundación Piel Sana of the Spanish Academy of Dermatology,

So far, the app has been downloaded more than 40,000 times and the team is working on developing a new version translated in more languages so it can be used globally.

“The app will be fully operational and available in more languages, by spring 2019,” says Aguilera.

Previous research found that all people should be aware of their folate consumption, especially in regions where the supply of folate in the food supply may be low. Folate deficiency creates more problems in connection with DNA replication than previously assumed, according to researchers from the University of Copenhagen. Their findings showed that once a person is folate deficient, the “chromosomal abnormalities” and damage caused cannot be reversed. 

Last October, the UK welcomed a proposal to fortify flour with folic acid. This is a welcome move, UK nutritionists have stated. The policy, which was reportedly introduced within weeks after it was proposed, came after ministers backed a plan that medical experts say will reduce the number of babies born in the UK with serious birth NTD.

To contact our editorial team please email us at

Related Articles

Health & Nutrition News

Maternal supplementation can increase infant birth size, but access barriers remain, study warns

12 Feb 2019 --- For women in resource-poor settings, taking a daily nutritional supplement before conception or in early pregnancy may provide enough of a boost to improve growth of the fetus, according to a study funded by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). Maternal under-nutrition in low-income countries has repeatedly been linked to negative outcomes for their children, such as chronic nutritional deprivation. However, a further study published in BMC Nutrition highlights how many barriers remain in accessing women in more impoverished and rural areas to provide adequate nutritional interventions.

Health & Nutrition News

Algatech launches potent astaxanthin in whole-food format

11 Feb 2019 --- Israeli-based Algatechnologies has launched AstaPure Arava, an all-natural, algae complex that contains naturally occurring constituents of the Haematococcus Pluvialis algae. The company claims that this species of microalgae is the “richest known source of astaxanthin” and its properties are supported by research from NIS Labs, a research institute based in the US. Led by Dr. Gitte Jensen, the research has shown that Arava algae powder is highly potent and has the synergistic effects of natural astaxanthin and the whole-algae complex.

Health & Nutrition News

Nestlé acquires technology to help fight iron deficiency through food fortification

31 Jan 2019 --- Nestlé has acquired a novel technology that will enable it to address iron deficiency, one of the world’s most widespread nutritional deficiencies. The technology, FERRI PRO, was developed to address nutritional iron deficiencies without adversely affecting the taste of food and beverages by researchers at the Riddet Institute Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE), Massey University, New Zealand.

Health & Nutrition News

Vitamin D may lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes, Brazilian study finds

31 Jan 2019 --- Vitamin D increases insulin sensitivity, causing glucose levels to drop and potentially decreasing the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. This is according to a new study published in The North American Menopause Society’s (NAMS) journal Menopause.

Health & Nutrition News

Easing up on animal produce: Canada’s revised food guide favors plant-based eating and ditches portion sizes

24 Jan 2019 --- Canada’s revised food guide, updated from the 2007 version, has shifted its recommendations towards a plant-based diet, is less focused on meat and dairy and eliminates some food groups. The dramatic overhaul by Health Canada is receiving mixed reactions. The federal government’s recommendations are coming under fire from the country’s dairy industry which is pointing out the distinct lack of advice towards consuming milk, while nutrition experts believe the updates provide guidelines for a healthy diet that Canadians can tailor to their own dietary preferences and cultural norms.

More Articles