The folic acid,  pteroyl-L-glutamic acid or  folacin  , is a water soluble vitamin, which belongs to the vitamins of the complex  B9 , necessary for the formation of hemoglobin and proteins fundamental structural for our body, highly necessary to prevent disease, protect cells and strengthen the nervous system.

A large number of studies have shown that women who take 0.4 milligrams a day before conception and during the first months of their pregnancy have a risk of less than 70% that their baby will be born with severe neural tube defects (congenital defect consisting of the malformation of the spinal cord and incomplete development of the brain).

Do not forget to know all the benefits that this vitamin has for the body, then we will try to touch all the most important aspects, how it is obtained, the dose and possible side effects.

What is folic acid and what is it for?

Folic acid is one more member of the B vitamins (vitamin B9 or folates), divided in water and is constantly absorbed by the system, in this way your body would not store much folic acid. This must be obtained through food, precisely from vegetables and fruits.

Apart from its function for newborns, which is to prevent any damage in their birth, it also serves so that the organs of the human body are protected, the processes of the same are kept uniform, generates energy and replicates DNA. Without it, cell divisions cannot be carried out, which will result in the presence of diseases, due to the lack of defenses.

The acid acts mainly to accompany the red cells in their process. When this is done in the absence of the vitamin, its process begins to generate serious difficulties. This cell cannot mature and its size increases, thus causing a malfunction that is vital to our health. The condition it causes is known as megaloblastic anemia.

Benefits of folic acid

The benefits of vitamin B9 are very varied. The most important are the following

  • Protection in the processes that detoxify the liver.
  • Prevents homocysteine ​​(toxic pound radical).
  • Strengthens the hair.
  • Promotes hair growth and shine.
  • It is key to the absorption of important nutrients.
  • Prevents gray hair at an early age.
  • Prevents breast, colon and cervical cancer.
  • Control hypertension.
  • Helps in menopausal treatments.

In men

An intake of folic acid is important for healthy sperm production. It is necessary that the different generations prevent the absence of the vitamin, since this can become hereditary

In women

In pregnant women, it is recommended to consume the correct dose of folic acid, since the deposits of the vitamin help to protect the baby during the first month, when the brain and spine are formed; This being the vital and important function when they are in childbearing age and more if the pregnancy is not planned.

Possible damages are:

  • Absence of the brain or part of it.
  • Spina bifida
  • Cleft palate and lip.
  • Low weight of the newborn.
  • Low chances of giving birth at an early age.

In children

The functionality of folic acid in children is fundamental to the structure of DNA and RNA. These molecules are important as they possess the genetic information. DNA is responsible for determining the growth of the child, as well as the development of the body’s cells. It also determines when a genetic disease would appear.

For its part, RNA is responsible for transmitting all the information from the DNA to the cells so that the development process occurs.

Foods that contain folic acid

Its absorption process takes place in the small intestine and is distributed through the blood to the tissues, for this reason it is important to have a balanced diet.

There are different supplements where acid can be obtained, being the substitute for the absorption of sufficient amounts of nutrients, but for a better result, it must be consumed directly from the natural sources that have it.

  1. Vegetables: those with green leaves are a very healthy generator, since they generate 63% of the vitamin, being the daily requirement. An example is spinach.
  2. Legumes: known as lentils, beans and among others. This type of food also generates a good amount of the nutrient. With just a half cup of beans you can produce 50% of the daily requirement, this is equal to 180 mcg of folic acid.
  3. Asparagus: with a cup of this food you can absorb 62% of the daily consumption, which is equal to 262 mcg of the vitamin.
  4. The avocado: it is a source that does not produce as much, but it is significant. It can contain 90 mcg of the acid for each serving consumed.
  5. Citrus fruits: citrus fruits, beyond being rich in nutrients, are also rich in flavor, such as mandarin, which can contain around 40 mcg per unit. Lemons, on the other hand, can reach 55 mcg.

Suggeste dose of folic acid

The recommended doses depend on the physiological state and age. For better safety, it is recommended to visit your doctor before consumption.

  • Young people of average age (16 years for example): 400 mcg of folic acid daily, approximately.
  • Pregnant or lactating women: daily need between 500 to 600 mcg.

Side effects of folic acid

This vitamin does not present secondary effects before its use, but an abuse of it can cause as many problems as its absence.

It is recommended that the doses are not greater than 800 mcg (micrograms), this excess of nutrient can become an inhibitor of vitamin B12 absorption, as well as it can hide its deficiencies.

With the absence of folic acid problems can also occur. Beyond those mentioned in newborns, in adults there may also be difficulties such as depression, psychosis, memory loss, inflammation of the gums, among others.

The excess or absence of this vitamin requires medical attention. We hope the information has been very useful. Thanks for reading!

Samantha Robson
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Dr. Samantha Robson ( CRN: 0510146-5) is a nutritionist and website content reviewer related to her area of ​​expertise. With a postgraduate degree in Nutrition from The University of Arizona, she is a specialist in Sports Nutrition from Oxford University and is also a member of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

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