Vitamin B9: Folic Acid

Folates are a group of compounds derived from folic acid. They are required for cell division and the formation of DNA (the body’s genetic blueprint) and RNA (which transports DNA data within the cell), and for protein synthesis. Folate is also vital for reproduction and for the development of the iron-containing protein in hemoglobin needed to make red blood cells. The terms folic acid and folate are often used interchangeably for this eater-soluble B-complex vitamin. Folic acid is the form most often used in synthetic vitamin supplements and fortified foods. Naturally occurring folates are found in foods as well as in metabolically active forms in the human body.

We need folic acid to build muscles and to keep the body strong and in good repair. Folic acid is one of the most essential elements in the body to help replace failing body cells with new ones. It is especially important for reproducing cells that wear out and divide rapidly, such as red blood cells, skin cells, and the cells that line the small intestine.

Folic acid (also known as folate) is one of the B-complex vitamins that is known to work with vitamin B12 and vitamin C to break down proteins and for the formation of hemoglobin (a compound in red blood cells essential for transferring oxygen and carbon dioxide).

In the past few years we have learned that folic acid helps to prevent birth defects and heart disease, and may even help to prevent cancer. The evidence is so convincing that since 1998 many common grain products, including bread, cereal, pasta, and rice, have been fortified with folic acid in an attempt to replace what has been removed in the manufacturing process, but natural folic acid is available in all sprouted rains and in fresh, leafy vegetables. Consuming sprouted and germinated grains can prevent all of these disorders.

Folate deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies and can result in megaloblastic anemia, which is characterized by a reduced number of red blood cells. Side effects of anemia include weakness, fatigue, headache, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and shortness of breath.

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