Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid)

One of the more important vitamins, vitamin B9 (folic acid) is found both naturally and synthetically. In it's natural form, it is known as folate. When it is added to foods therefore enriching them, it is known as folic acid.

Vitamin B9 (folic acid) benefits

Playing a vital role in the production of red blood cells as well as the synthesis of DNA (by working with vitamin B12 and vitamin C to breakdown, use, and create new proteins), vitamin B9 (folic acid) is also responsible for facilitating tissue growth and cell function.

Pregnant women require more vitamin B9 (folic acid) than a normal person to aid in the prevention of birth defects. It does this by lowering the risk of the following: neural tube issues (a structure that eventually becomes the brain and spine), cleft palate, spina bifida, and brain damage.

While not known for sure, there are studies that may suggest that vitamin B9 (folic acid) may assist in lowering one's risk for heart disease, slow the progression of hearing loss, aid in keeping the eyes healthy, assist in treating depression, and protecting the body against various forms of cancer including colon, breast, cervical, pancreatic, and stomach cancer.

Sources of vitamin B9 (folic acid)

Foods containing abundant amounts of vitamin B9 (folic acid) are spinach, dark leafy greens, asparagus, turnips, beets, mustard greens, Brussels sprouts, lima beans, soybeans, beef liver, brewer's yeast, root vegetables, whole grains, wheat germ, bulgur wheat, kidney beans, white beans, lima beans, mung beans, salmon, orange juice, avocado, and milk. It should also be noted that nearly all grain and cereal products in the U.S. are enriched with vitamin B9 (folic acid).

Pregnant women are often placed on a prenatal vitamin program to ensure they reach the 600mcg recommendation to prevent birth defects.

Recommended amounts

Set forth by the National Academy of Sciences, the recommended daily allowances (RDAs) for vitamin B9 (folic acid) are below (some individuals may be placed on a plan that requires higher than normal amounts to manage a specific issue they may be experiencing).

Table 1: Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for vitamin B9 (folic acid)1
Age Amount
0-6 months 65mcg/day (adequate intake)
7-12 months 80mcg/day (adequate intake)
1-3 years 150mcg/day
4-8 years 200mcg/day
9-13 years 300mcg/day
14+ years 400mcg/day
Pregnant Females 600mcg/day
Nursing Females 500mcg/day

Vitamin B9 (folic acid) deficiency

Women who are deficient in vitamin B9 (folic acid) are at greater risk to bear a child with birth defects. Symptoms of a vitamin B9 (folic acid) deficiency may include: diarrhea, gray hair, mouth ulcers, peptic ulcer, poor growth, and swollen tongue.

Sources:
1Vitamin B9 (Folic acid) - http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/vitamin-b9-000338.htm

Folic acid in diet - http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002408.htm

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