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Folic Acid (Folate - Vitamin B9)

Folic Acid (Vitamin B9) Description and Overview:

Folate and folic acid are two types of the water-soluble vitamin known as vitamin B9. Folic acid is a synthetic type of vitamin B9 which is utlized for enriching foods and in vitamin supplements. Folate is found naturally in food sources.

Folic acid is a vital component in the processes which regulate both growth and development, especially in regards to cell division and production of DNA. Folic acid is needed for all bodily process that depend on cell division. Vitamin B9 is a critical compound at all phases of human life that involve growth, including being pregnant, lactating, and early growth stages, because of the crucial part that folic acid has in the production of DNA, RNA and protein. Folate deficiency is one of the more widespread nutrient deficiencies and often occurs in those who chronically abuse alcohol, women who are pregnant, people who suffer from absorption disorders like ulcerative colitis, and those who take certain medications. Read more about the benefits and functions of folic acid and signs of folic acid deficiency.

Folic acid which occurs naturally in foods is known as folate. Naturally occuring folates can be obtained from in dark-green, leafy vegetables (such as spinach, kale, broccoli, mustard greens, turnip greens, arugula, beet greens, escarole, chard, bok choy, mache, radicchio, and Swiss chard), beans (such as pinto and garbanzo beans), oranges and orange juice, cauliflower, lentils, asparagus, liver and yeast. Read more about sources of folic acid and the daily requirement of folic acid.

Toxicity due to ingesting excessive quantities of folic acid intake rarely happens, since folic acid is a water soluble nutrient and easily excreted by the body. Read more about folic acid overdose.


Folic acid and folate describe different forms of vitamin B9. Folic acid is the name for the compound, pteroylmono glutamic acid, which is found primarily in supplements. Folate is the label for pteroyglutamte, which is used to describe any of the protein-bound or other types of folic acid, which are mostly found in food. 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 efficiently absorbs nearly 90 % of folic acid (the type of vitamin B9 found in supplements). Folate, or the protein-bound form of folic acid found in foods, can't be absorbed until they undergo modification by certain enzymes in the body. This means that as little as half of folate is often absorbed.

A deficiency of folic acid can lead to megaloblastic anemia. Since 1998, the FDA has required that cereal grain products (like breakfast cereals and breads) be enriched with folic acid (140 micrograms per 100 grams of food). The goal is to decrease the occurence of folate deficiency during the initial stages of pregnancy, since deficiency during this period increases the risk of infants being born with neural tube birth defects.

Vitamin B9 is easily destroyed by exposure to both air and heat, and signficant amounts can be lost when food is incorrectly stored, cooked, and/or reheated.

Folic Acid (Vitamin B9) Articles:

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More Information:

Folic Acid (Vitamin B9) Benefits, Functions, Signs of Deficiency

Folic Acid (Vitamin B9) Daily Requirement, Dietary Sources



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