Folic acid is also known as folate or vitamin B9. It is part of the water-soluble B complex of vitamins.
What Does Vitamin B9 Do For My Body and How Much Do I Need??
Folic acid works together with the other B vitamin complex to convert sugars, carbohydrates (carbs) and fats (or lipids) into energy that is used by the body. Just like the rest of the B vitamin complex, it works together with other B vitamins to help maintain the muscle tone of the digestive tract, as well as helping your hair, skin, eyes, mouth, liver and your nervous system to stay healthy.
Vitamin B9 on its own is absolutely essential for producing and maintaining new cells (such as DNA and RNA) within the body. It also plays an important role in proper brain function.
The RDA (recommended daily allowance) is as follows:
Men and women aged 19 and older should consume at least 400 micrograms per day.
Pregnant women should consume at least 600 micrograms per day.
Breastfeeding or lactating women should consume at least 500 micrograms per day.
Vitamin B9 and Pregnancy
Since it is so important for the body’s production and maintenance of new cells, it is also extremely important during pregnancy and during the first few years of a new baby’s life. A proper intake of vitamin B9 will help prevent issues such as low birth-rate, premature births, problems with the spinal cord such as defects with the neural tube and the brain.
Folic acid deficiency during pregnancy can also cause problems such as spina bifida and anencephaly. Spina bifida is when the embryonic neural tube does not completely closure, which causes a spinal cord that is incomplete in formation. Anencephaly is also a neural tube defect. According to Wikipedia, anencephaly “occurs when the cephalic (head) end of the neural tube fails to close, usually between the 23rd and 26th day of pregnancy, resulting in the absence of a major portion of the brain, skull, and scalp.”
The RDA for children is as follows:
Infants aged 0 to 6 months should consume at least 65 micrograms per day.
Infants aged 7 to 12 months should consume at least 80 micrograms per day.
Toddlers aged 1 to 3 years should consume at least 150 micrograms per day.
Children aged 4 to 8 years should consume at least 200 micrograms per day.
Children aged 9 to 13 years should consume at least 300 micrograms per day.
Teens aged 14 to 18 should consume at least 400 micrograms per day.
Where Can I Find?
In addition to fortified breakfast foods and fortified juices, folate can also be found in broccoli, asparagus, brussel sprouts, soybeans, mushrooms, spinach, turnip greens, dry beans, peas, and liver. It can also be found in whole grains, kidney beans or lima beans, oysters, salmon, orange juice, avocados and milk.
Vitamin B9 Deficiency
Deficiency of vitamin B9 is the most common of all the B complex vitamins. Deficiency symptoms include anemia, loss of appetite followed by weight loss, and diarrhea. Many individuals do not get sufficient amounts of leafy green vegetables in their diet, which is the main source of folate.
Before beginning a daily vitamin regiment of vitamin B9 you should always consult your doctor. This is especially important if you are pregnant or nursing.
LifeClinic International; “Vitamin B9” – http://www.lifeclinic.com/
Health Guide HQ; “Folic acid overdose” –http://www.healthguidesdaily.com/
University of Maryland Medical Center; “Folate” – http://umm.edu/
Wikipedia; “Anencephaly” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anencephaly
Wikipedia; “Spina Bifida” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spina_bifida