Folic Acid / Vitamin B9
Vitamin B9, also called folic acid, is required for the production of red blood cells. It has benefits for a healthy body, such as assisting with cell function and tissue growth. It is essential in the synthesis of DNA, and getting sufficient amounts is especially important for women during pregnancy.
How Much Folic Acid Do You Need?
The Reccomended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for adult men and women is 400 µg per day. However, pregnant women should take in 600 µg per day and lactating women require 500 µg of vitamin B 9.
What Happens If You Don't Get Enough Folic Acid?
A deficiency in folic acid can result in diarrhea, appetite loss, weakness, weight loss, shortness of breath, headaches, irritability, heart palpitations, depression and sore tongue. A severe deficiency results in anemia in adults and can slow the rate of growth in children. Folic acid is especially essential for pregnant women. If women do not take in enough folic acid before conception and during pregnancy, there is an increased risk that the baby will have congenital malformations. Folic acid greatly reduces the incidences of neural tube defects such as spina bifida. Pregnant women who do not consume enough of the vitamin also have an increased chance of giving birth prematurely or of having low birth weight babies. Pregnant and lactating women are encouraged to supplement this vitamin in addition to consuming a diet rich in folic acid.
What Happens If You Get Too Much Folic Acid?
It is unusual to overdose on folic acid. The upper intake level is set at 1,000 µg by the Institue of Medicine. An excessive intake may contribute to kidney damage, nauseua, abdominal bloating and increased cholesterol.
Good Sources of Folic Acid
The vitamin is abundant in asparagus, green leafy vegetables (such as spinach and turnip greens), fortified cereals and grains, and dried beans and peas. The chart below shows the vitamin content of various common foods that are rich sources.
|Good Sources of Folic Acid|
|Brussel sprouts||1/2 cup||80|
|Oatmeal (instant)||1 package||70|
|*Micrograms of Folic Acid|
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