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B9 – Folic Acid

What is Folic Acid?

Folic acid, also known as B9, is a water-soluble B vitamin. It aids the body in making healthy new cells. The names Folic Acid and Folate have the same meaning and are used interchangeably because Folic Acid is a mechanical or man-made form of Folate.

What does Folic Acid do?

Vitamin B9 or Folic Acid is essential and useful for several bodily functions as well as aiding rapid growth and division of cells.

The vitamin B9 or Folic acid is used for the prevention and treatment of a deficiency of the vitamin as well as anemia and the causes of it. Studies show that Folic Acid is also given to patients who have ulcerative colitis, those whose bowels don’t properly absorb the nutrients, liver disease and alcoholism, also patients that have been put on dialysis for their kidneys.
Doctors have been known to instruct pregnant women or women wanting to get pregnant, to take the vitamin to help with the prevention of miscarriages and other birth defects like spina bifida.

Some men and women even use folic acid to help prevent cervical cancer and or colon cancer. Studies have shown it also used to prevent stroke and heart disease. Other studies state that the use of the vitamin, Folic acid is helpful for the prevention of the eye disease called age related macular degeneration, memory loss, osteoporosis, hearing loss in older people, Alzheimer’s disease, insomnia, restless leg syndrome, a skin disease called vitiligo where a person loses pigment, depression, and even the auto-immune deficiency syndrome called AIDS.

Some dental hygienists will instruct that folic acid be applied directly to the patient’s gums for treating gum infections. And while folic acid is definitely a beneficial vitamin to use, it is often used in conjunction with other B vitamins.

Where is Folic Acid found?

Folate, otherwise known as folic acid or B9, is naturally found in some foods. For many years and as required by federal law, folic acid has been added to enriched flour, different types of pasta, breakfast/cold cereals, various bakery items like cookies, crackers, and even several breads. But there are foods that are naturally rich in folic acid they include but are not limited to; leafy and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, lettuce, and cabbage, brussel sprouts, okra, asparagus, fruits like kiwi, papaya, melons, lemons, and bananas, beans, lentils, peas, yeast, sunflower seeds, mushrooms, organ meats such as kidneys and beef liver, tomato juice and even orange juice.

What happens when someone is deficient of Folic Acid?

Of course if people don’t get enough folic acid in their diet via the foods they consume, a folic acid deficiency can and may develop. In order to find out if there is a deficiency a doctor’s visit is necessary but here are a few signs and symptoms to be aware of. They include: general tiredness, fatigue, a feeling weakness, slight memory loss and forgetfulness, lack of or loss of appetite, weight loss, and even irritability. Folic acid deficiency can also cause poor growth, gingivitis, shortness of breath, and tongue inflammation. Pregnant women on the other hand, must take a prenatal vitamin as well as consume foods rich in the vitamin Folic acid because studies and tests have proven that a deficiency of folic acid can and will cause neural tube birth defects in newborns.

Helpful food sources, supplements and additional benefits of Folic Acid (B9)

As stated earlier, Folic Acid (B9) can and may prevent birth defects and help to protect the heart. It may also help combat Alzheimer’s disease and other age related mental disorders. Folic Acid has been prescribed to help alleviate depression and is said to protect against certain cancers. Other added benefits include but are not limited to, the vitamin helping to lessen the risk of colon cancer in people diagnosed with irritable bowel disease, reduce growth of tumors, and for men who are infertile or have a low sperm count, folic acid may help increase the sperm count. Another great fact to know is that the vitamin B9, also called folic acid or folate, is greatly involved in the production of DNA and in other numerous other bodily functions. It is needed for the proper development of the human body and is available in multivitamin form.

 

AIs (Adequate Intakes)

Infants
0-6 months
7-12 months
Microgram per Day
65
80

RDAs (Recommended Dietary Allowances)

If you are thinking of becoming pregnant, it is recommended to consume 400 microgram from supplements or fortified foods, in order to avoid neural tube defects in the fetus.

Children
1-3 years
4-8 years
Microgram per Day
150
200
Males
9-13 years
14-18 years
19-30 years
31-50 years
50-70 years
> 70 years

300
400
400
400
400
400
Females
9-13 years
14-18 years
19-30 years
31-50 years
50-70 years
> 70 years

300
400
400
400
400
400
Pregnancy
< 19 years
19-30 years
31-50 years

600
600
600
Lactation
< 19 years
19-30 years
31-50 years

500
500
500

Source: USDA Dietary Reference Intakes