What Are Folic Acids? B9
You might have heard someone tell you to supplement your diet with a folic acid supplement especially if you are pregnant, or trying to get pregnant. In fact, over the last few years, folic acid has been heavily marketed to women of child bearing age, and for good reason. However, folic acid can benefit everyone.
Folic acid is actually a B vitamin, B9 to be exact, and it is essential for cell growth and reproduction. It is also vital in the formation of DNA and RNA building blocks which is important as the body create genetic information.
Because of these reasons, when the body is rapidly creating tissues or regenerating cells, such as red blood cells and immune cells, there is an increased need for folic acid. There has been increased interest in folic acid in relation to pregnancy in recent years due to the fact that the fetus undergo tremendous amount of cell reproduction and growth.
Because there can be quite a gap between the time when a women conceives and discovers the pregnancy, it is recommended that all women of child bearing age supplement their diets with folic acid. Studies have shown that it may be too late to reap the benefits of folic acid by the time a women discovers the pregnancy.
Folic acid deficiencies have been linked to low birth weight babies, and an increased rate of neural tube defects. By supplementing with 400mcg of folic acid, pregnant women may be able to prevent or reduce the likelihood of heart defects, upper lip and mouth deformities, urinary tract defects and limb reduction issues.
Who else can benefit from Folic Acid?
It has been proven that folic acid can keep homocysteine levels in the blood from rising, and therefore prevent heart disease. Deficiencies in folic acid have also been discovered in patients with peripheral vascular disease and coronary artery disease.
In 1996 the FDA regulated that all flour, rice, and pasta products be enriched with folic acid. This was an attempt to help people who do not regularly supplement their diets gain adequate folic acid dosage. It has since been found that the amount that the products are being enriched is not enough, and supplementing is still being encouraged, particularity with pregnant women.
Source of Folic Acid & Recommended Intake
Folic acid is found in beans, leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, beets, wheat germ and meat products. Supplementation has been found to be a very effective way to get enough folic acid and it is recommended that women of child bearing age take 400mcg, and otherwise healthy people should be fine with 100mcg.
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