Also called folate or folacin, folic acid is one of the B-complex vitamins. Folic acid can not b manufactured by the body and mush, therefore, come from food or supplements. The daily requirements of folic acid for both healthy men and women is 200 micrograms (200 mg). However, the need increases prior to and pregnancy, when breastfeeding and in people over about 50 years old.
Folic acid plays a vital role in making DNA *the substance that makes up our genes) and RNA (a substance needed to make proteins), in normal growth and development, and in the production of new cells. It works with vitamin B12 to form hemoglobin for red blood cells and help convert the amino acid, Homocysteine to methionine.
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A good supply of folic acid prior to and in early pregnancy reduces the risk of the baby developing a neural tube defect such as spina bifida. If you are thinking of having a baby or are in the first trimester of a pregnancy, you should take a supplement of 400 mg (0.4 mg) of folic acid every day.
Folic Acid Deficiency
A Deficiency of folic acid is common today since many people consume diets high in fat and processed foods and eat less than the daily recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables. A folic acid Deficiency occurs in people with an intestinal disorder such as Crohn’s disease, in which they can not absorb this and other vitamins. Folic acid Deficiency in older people may be the result of a poor diet and normal aging. In addition, older people produce less of the stomach acid needed for the digestion of folic acid. Certain medications and alcohol can affect the body’s ability to take up folic acid. Lack of folic acid causes megaloblastic anemia with symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath on mild exertion and pale skin. Other symptoms may include diarrhea, weight loss, sore, mouth, and heartburn. A deficiency of folic acid also results in raised levels of the amino acid homocysteine, which may lead to cardiovascular disease.
Good Sources of Folic Acid
Folic acid is found naturally in all these foods, which contain at least 30 mg of folic acid per 85-200 g.
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Fresh green vegetables