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Folic Acid - Vitamin B9

(folacin, folate)


A member of the B-complex vitamins, water-soluble, unstable in heat and light. Folic acid acts as a coenzyme with vitamins C and B12 in numerous essential metabolic reactions. It acts as a carbon carrier in the formation of haeme (iron containing protein in haemoglobin) and is necessary for the formation of red blood cells.

Folic acid is involved in the synthesis of nucleic acids, is essential for proper growth. Helps reduce homocysteine levels (amino acid that encourages arterial plaque buildup), helps prevent spina bifida, cleft palate and cleft lip formation. Dietary supplies of folic acid are in the polyglutamate form which is then converted in the wall of the small intestine to the monoglutamate form before being absorbed into the bloodstream. Folic acid is synthesized by intestinal bacteria in the large intestine (colon), and absorption occurs in the upper part of the small intestine. It is stored in the liver.

FOOD SOURCES

Brewer's yeast, dark leafy vegetables, egg yolk, whole grains, beans and pulses, wheat germ.

SUPPLEMENTATION

Synthetic folate.

SIGNS OF DEFICIENCY

Abdominal pains, anaemia, bleeding gums, chronic liver disease, constipation, diarrhoea, epilepsy, forgetfulness, gas, GI disturbances, glossitis, graying hair, irritability, lack of energy, lesions at the corners of the mouth, mental sluggishness, neural tube defects, paleness, red blood cells do not develop properly, sleeping disorders, sore throat, sore tongue, toxemia, weakness, weight loss. Most elderly people and a half of all women are deficient in folic acid. Women of child-bearing years should consider folic acid supplementation to avoid the possibilities of bearing children with birth defects.

SIGNS OF TOXICITY

There is no known toxicity for folic acid. Prolonged use of high doses can produce folacin crystals in the kidneys, uricosuria. 1,500 mcg/day can cause abdominal distension, appetite loss, flatulence, nausea.

DAILY REQUIREMENT

200mcg, 400mcg during pregnancy.

 

 

 

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