I already talked, briefly, about Folic Acid in my B vitamins article, however this vitamin is so important it needs an article of its own! Folic acid is also known as Folate and Vitamin B9. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, “Folate helps produce and maintain new cells. This is especially important during periods of rapid cell division and growth such as infancy and pregnancy.” For this reason, women who are of child-bearing years and may become pregnant should make sure they are taking a women’s multi vitamin with adequate levels of Folic Acid.
Folate or Folic Acid is widely available in supplemental form; however, there are some natural food sources of folate available as well. Leafy green vegetables and citrus fruits are the most common food sources of folate. Additionally, foods such as bread and various cereals are fortified with supplementary folic acid. You may want to consider your folate intake because “folate is needed to make DNA and RNA, the building blocks of cells. It also helps prevent changes to DNA that may lead to cancer,” according to the Office of Dietary Supplements, “Both adults and children need folate to make normal red blood cells and prevent anemia.”
The Institute of Medicine recommends the following daily dosages of Folic Acid:
1-3 years old 150μg/day
4-8 years old 200μg/day
9-13 years old 300μg/day
14+ years old 400μg/day
Pregnant or nursing women are recommended to get 600μg/day of Folic Acid because of its importance in cell development.
Because Folic Acid is a water soluble vitamin it’s hard to get excessive amounts of it, however the Office of Dietary Supplements does warn against taking too much supplemental Folic Acid for various reasons. One of the biggest reasons to avoid too much Folic Acid is the ability of increased Folic Acid intake to mask the symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency, leading to larger health problems.
Most liquid nutritional supplements, particularly multivitamins, have Folic Acid in them. It’s important to make sure you’re aware of how much Folic Acid you’re getting, because while it’s important, it is possible for Folic Acid to react adversely to some medications you may be taking. As always consult your physician if you have any questions or concerns about your current or potential supplement regime.
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