Folic acid (vitamin B9) has many alternative names, such as “women’s vitamin” and “vitamin from leaves”. It was first isolated by N. Mitchal from spinach leaves, from where it got its name.
Folic acid is a water-soluble vitamin that is partially synthesized by the microflora of our intestines.
Everyone knows that folic acid should be consumed during pregnancy, but it plays an important role in all periods of life for both women and men.
The action of vitamin B9 is to regulate the growth of new cells, chemical processes, and enzyme activity.
Folic acid is a participant in the synthesis of blood cells, in particular red blood cells, leukocytes, and platelets, synthesis of amino acids and RNA. It is responsible for cell growth and the preservation of DNA integrity.
Thus, folic acid during pregnancy reduces the risk of miscarriage, premature birth, and congenital abnormalities of the child, and also reduces the likelihood of postpartum depression in the mother. Folic acid is so essential for proper hematopoiesis that its deficiency causes severe anemia.
Vitamin B9 also reduces the risk of tumor formation. Like all B vitamins, folic acid affects the state of the nervous system, and thus our mood and performance. Vitamin B9 has a positive effect on intestinal and liver functions, increases choline content in the liver, and prevents its fatty infiltration.
The optimal daily dose of folic acid for adults is 400 mcg per day, and pregnant women need a little more – up to 600 mcg.
Most often, folic acid deficiency is caused by malnutrition. However, dysbiosis and intestinal diseases often lead to vitamin deficiency, in which this vitamin ceases to be absorbed.
The consequences of folic acid deficiency are:
- Megaloblastic anemia is the name given to a type of anemia in which the number of red blood cells decreases and their normal functioning is disturbed. Symptoms of this disease include digestive disorders, hair loss, constant fatigue, and ulcers on the oral mucosa.
- Disorders of fetal formation and development during pregnancy
- Pathology of pregnancy – miscarriage, premature birth
- Bad health, mood, depression
- Infertility in both women and men
Since it is a water-soluble trace element that is quickly excreted from the body, an excess of folic acid is very rare. However, there may be an increase in fetal weight, which can lead to obesity and the development of diabetes mellitus.
Foods that contain folic acid
The champion in vitamin B9 content is greens. Spinach, lettuce, and cabbage are invaluable sources of this substance. Green onions, broccoli, and all dark green vegetables in general are also rich in vitamin B9.
Significant amounts of folic acid are found in walnuts, peanuts, tomatoes, citrus fruits, beets, sprouted wheat, beans, buckwheat, beef, and chicken liver.
It should be remembered that folic acid is very sensitive to high temperatures, so vegetables should be consumed in a thermally unprocessed form.