Folic acid also known as vitamin B9 is a water-soluble vitamin. Folic acid by itself is not a biologically active chemical but it becomes biologically active after a chemical transformation in liver. Human body always has a reserve of folic acid, and this is essential for synthesizing DNA and repairing DNA. It is very essential for cell division and growth and hence very important nutrient for infants and kids (also for pregnant women).
Vitamin B9 – Folic Acid Sources
Folate and folic acid got their names from the Latin word folium (which means “leaf”). Leafy vegetables such as spinach, asparagus, turnip greens and other greens are the primary source. Legumes such as fresh beans, peas and lentils are also good source of this vitamin.
Biological Functions of Vitamin B9 – Folic Acid
Vitamin B9 is very important for pregnant women, infants and kids because it aids in cell division and prevent congenital diseases by repairing the DNA. The other important biological functions of Vitamin B9 are:[checklist]
- Folic acid aids in producing healthy red blood cells and prevent anemia.
- Synthesizing and repairing DNA
- Maintains neural health
- Helps in cell division and growth
- Prevents sterility[/checklist]
Vitamin B9- Deficiency
A folate deficiency is uncommon in the developed countries because most of the cereals are fortified with this vitamin. Even Australia and Newzealand have standards for fortifying the cereals and breads with folate. However if someone is experiencing this deficiency then it may result in many health problems, the most important is the neural tube defects in developing embryos. The other common symptoms are diarrhea, anemia with weakness or shortness of breath, nerve damage, pregnancy complications and many other mental disorders. It will also lead to issues with DNA synthesis and repair and could lead to development of cancer cells.
Vitamin B9 – Requirements and supplements
On an average for a normal individual the daily requirement of Vitamin B9 is 400 µg/day. However pregnant and lactating women should consume more than 600 µg/day. The upper limit is 100 µg/day. Vitamin B9 overdose is relatively rare as the excess folic acid is readily excreted in the urine (as vitamin B9 is water soluble). Nutribuy always recommend natural sources of nutrients. However if you don’t have access to green leafy vegetables or fortified foods then you can go for and fruits and other sources rich in vitamin B9, you can opt for a supplement. Read more about the risks involved using a supplement before opting for supplements.