Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid)

Folic acid, also known as folate, is important for the production and maintenance of new cells. This is especially necessary during both pregnancy and infancy when cell growth is extremely rapid. Both adults and children need folic acid to make normal red blood cells and to prevent anemia.

Having enough folic acid in early pregnancy can prevent birth defects, including problems with the spine (neural tube defects) and brain. Women who become pregnant and don't consume enough folate are also more likely to have babies who have low birthweight or are premature.

Nutritionists categorize vitamins by the materials that a vitamin will dissolve in. There are two categories: water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins. Water-soluble vitamins, which include the B-complex group and vitamin C, travel through the bloodstream. Whatever water-soluble vitamins are not used by the body are eliminated in urine, which means you need a continuous supply of them in your food. Vitamin B9 is a water-soluble vitamin.

How Much Folic Acid Is Enough?
Men need 200 micrograms per day of folic acid, and women who cannot become pregnant need 180 micrograms per day of folic acid. If you are a woman who plans to or could become pregnant, you need to eat foods fortified with folic acid. You may also need to take a supplement to be sure you're getting 400 micrograms per day. Once you are pregnant, your intake should be 400 micrograms per day. Breastfeeding mothers need 280 micrograms per day.

Sources of Folic Acid
* Leafy greens such as spinach and turnip greens
* Broccoli
* Asparagus
* Mushrooms
* Liver
* Dry beans and peas
* Fortified cereals and grain products
* Fortified juices

Can You Have Too Much or Too Little?
Folate deficiency can cause diarrhea, anemia, loss of appetite, weight loss, sore tongue and a variety of other symptoms. In a developing fetus, folic acid deficiency may cause birth defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly.

People who drink large amounts of alcohol may need extra folic acid to prevent a deficiency. Sometimes, treatment of anemia with folic acid will mask an anemia caused by a vitamin B2 deficiency. Always consult with your doctor before taking a large amount of any vitamin supplement.

Vitamin Storage
If you want to get the most vitamins possible from your food, refrigerate fresh produce and keep milk and grains away from strong light. Vitamins are easily destroyed and washed out during food preparation and storage. If you take vitamin supplements, store them at room temperature in a dry place that̢۪s free of moisture.

source : lifeclinic


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