Benefits of Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid)
Vitamin B9, which is also known as folic acid and folate, is a water-soluble, B-complex vitamin which acts in the role of a coenzyme in the production of DNA. It is necessary for the healthy reproduction, growth, and function of cells. As a B vitamin, folic acid is critical for energy conversion in the body. Vitamin B9 also has the following health benefits:
- It is required for the production of red and white blood cells. It also helps the body remove homocysteine from the blood. Homocysteine is toxin which can damage the heart and increase cholesterol deposits in the heart.
- Vitamin B9 contributes to healthy fetal development by regulating the development of the fetus’ central nervous system. It is a critical nutrient for all phases of human growth. Folic acid can help to reduce the occurrence of particular birth defects, including neural tube defects.
- Vitamin B9 is used to treat people who have anemia resulting from a folic acid deficiency. Synthetic folic acid supplements are often used for this purpose. B9 supplements are also prescribed for the treatment of certain menstruation-related issues.
- Folate is required for the body to be able to metabolize proteins and convert them into usable energy. Vitamin B9 works with vitamin B12 and vitamin C to regulate digestion and for the utilization of protein.
- Folic acid functions to stimulate appetite, and also promotes the production of stomach acid for healthy digestion. It also helps encourage liver health.
- Vitamin B9 helps the body use iron.
- Folic acid is necessary for healthy brain function and promotes balanced mental and emotional health.
Function of Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid)
Folate and folic acid are two forms of the nutrient known as vitamin B9. Folic acid, in the form of pteroylmono gluatmic acid, is a synthetic form of B9. It is often used for fortifying foods and is used in vitamin supplements. Folate, also known as pteroyglutamate, is the form of B9 that naturally occurs in foods.
Folic acid consists of para-aminobenzoic acid connected to a pteridine ring at one end, and to glutamic acid at the other. The pteridine-para-aminobenzoic acid section of the molecule is referred to as the pteroyl group.
The human body is able to absorb almost 90 % of folic acid (the form found in supplements). Folate, or the protein-bound form of folic acid found in dietary sources, isn’t able to be absorbed until it is modified by enzymes in the body. This results in much less folate being absorbed by the body. Usually, about half of folate is absorbed.
Folic acid is critical for the bodily processes which regulate growth and development of DNA and cells. Because of its importance for the production of DNA, it is integral to all phases of human development that involve growth, including pregnancy, lactation, and early development.
Folic acid which is found in food sources is called folate. Foods that are high in vitamin B9 include green, leafy vegetables, beans and legumes, and citrus fruits.
A vitamin B9 deficiency is more common than deficiencies of many other nutrients. It often occurs in people who abuse alcohol, pregnant women, those who have nutrient absorption disorders, such as ulcerative colitis, and people who are taking specific medications. Since 1998, it has been required by the FDA that cereal grain products must be fortified with folic acid, in an attempt to reduce the rate of folate deficiency during the early stages of pregnancy. A deficiency during this stage measurably increases the risk of having a baby with neural tube birth defects.
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