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The Importance of Vitamin B9 – Folic Acid / Folate

By: Robert J Banach Robert J Banach | Baby Boomer Fitness Challenge | 09/17/13

Category: Vitamins

What is Vitamin B9 – Folic Acid / Folate

Spinach leavesFolic Acid (man-made) or Folate (found naturally in foods) is a water soluble B complex Vitamin, and as with all water soluble vitamins it is not stored in the human body and must be replenished on a daily basis. Deriving its name from the Latin ‘leaf’, it is found mainly in leafy vegetables.

Folic Acid is important to the human body as it synthesizes and repairs our DNA, and as a cofactor in our biological functions, primarily in cell division and our growth. It is especially important in infancy and during pregnancy to aid in the healthy production of red blood cells and in preventing a deficiency in red blood cells, known as anemia.

According to a study, published in The Lancet, Folic Acid supplementation aids in such brain functions as memory and information processing speed.

Sources

Naturally, Vitamin B9 (Folate) is found in leafy vegetables; spinach, collard greens, turnip greens, asparagus, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and lettuce.  Lentils (beans), citrus fruits, sunflower seeds are, also, good sources.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a directive released in March 1996 mandated that, by January 1998, all flour and grain products labeled as “enriched” would contain folic acid, such foods would be cereals, rice and all flours. Each serving of these “enriched” foods would contain 100mcg of Folic Acid.

Daily Recommended Intake

  • Infants 0 – 6 months: 65 mcg (adequate intake)
  • Infants 7 – 12 months: 80 mcg (adequate intake)
  • Children 1 – 3 years: 150 mcg
  • Children 4 – 8 years: 200 mcg
  • Children 9 – 13 years: 300 mcg
  • Teens 14 – 18 years: 400 mcg
  • 19 years and older: 400 mcg
  • Pregnant women: 600 mcg
  • Breastfeeding women: 500 mcg

Supplements

Most people, with a relatively healthy diet, consume sufficient Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid / Folate) each day to meet their daily recommended intake. If you are taking any type of multi-vitamin, which usually contains 400mcg of Folic Acid, you will be ingesting a sufficient amount for your daily recommended intake.

The Teratology Society recommends all women who are capable of having babies should take 0.4mg folic acid, or make sure they consume enough fortified cereal grain products to reach 0.4mg of folic acid per day.

PLOS Medicine, a peer review online journal, wrote in 2009 that females who take folic acid supplements for at least 12 months before becoming pregnant could cut their risk of having a premature baby by about half.

Deficiency

The following are potential signs of Vitamin B9 deficiency: anemia, confusion, diarrhea, depression, glossitis and fetal neural tube defects and brain defects (during pregnancy).  Alcohol consumption accelerates Vitamin B9 deficiency.

Toxicity

Toxicity from Vitamin B9 are low risk, as it is water-soluble and regularly removed from our body through our urine.  High doses, over 1000mcg, may hide Vitamin B12 defiency diagnosis.

Other Potential Benefits

May lower risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, may reduce potential defects in sperm, may reduce depression and age-related macular degeneration, may, also, reduce chances of malaria in children under the age of 5.

 

Resources
WebMD | WomensHealth.gov | The Lancet | MedlinePlus | MayoClinic | Univ. of MD Medical Center | Wikipedia

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