Common Name: Vitamin B9
Synonym: Folic acid
Folic acid is required for DNA synthesis and cell growth and is important for red blood cell formation, energy production as well as the forming of amino acids. Folic acid is essential for creating heme, the iron containing substance in hemoglobin, crucial for oxygen transport.
It is important for healthy cell division and replication, since its involvement as coenzyme for RNA and DNA synthesis. It is also required for protein metabolism and in treating folic acid anemia. Folic acid also assists in digestion, and the nervous system, and works at improving mental as well as emotional health. This nutrient may be effective in treating depression and anxiety.
Shortage of folic acid may be indicated with diarrhea, heartburn and constipation.
Folic acid is very important in the development of the nervous system of a developing fetus.
Deficiency of vitamin B9:
A deficiency of folic acid on an unborn baby may increase the risk of the baby being born with spina bifida and other serious defects of the nervous system.
When deficient of folic acid, you might suffer from fatigue, acne, a sore tongue, cracking at the corners of your mouth (same as deficiency of vitamin B2, vitamin B6 as well as iron). Long term deficiency may result in anemia and later in osteoporosis, as well as cancer of the bowel and cervix.
400 micrograms per day.
Toxicity and symptoms of high intake:
Anybody on medication for epilepsy should be careful with large amounts of folic acid, since it can change the functioning of such drugs.
Too much folic acid may mask a Vitamin B12 deficiency. Regular high intake of folic acid may cause digestive upset, energy loss and insomnia.
Best used with:
Folic acid is more effective when taken with the B group vitamins ?especially vitamin B12 and vitamin B6. Vitamin C is also good to have around folic acid.
When more may be required:
Pregnant women are sometimes advised to take a small supplement of folic acid to help prevent spina bifida and other congenial nervous disorders, and may also assist to reduce the risk of toxemia in pregnancy, premature labor and hemorrhaging. It is also thought to enhance the production of milk after delivery.
Sufferers of psoriasis may consider taking extra folic acid, people under stress or anyone consuming alcohol.
Women on birth control pills or busy with hormone replacement therapy may benefit from folic acid, as well as children if they are on goat's milk instead of cow's milk.
Enemy of vitamin B9 - folic acid:
Light, heat and storage for extended periods can destroy this vitamin.
Other interesting points
Localized deficiencies of folic acid may exist for smokers, as low levels have been detected in the lungs of smokers.
Food sources of vitamin B9
Fresh green vegetables, such as spinach and broccoli contain folic acid. It is also found in fruit, starchy vegetables, beans, whole grains and liver.