Health Benefits of Folic Acid
Folic acid, or vitamin B9 (also called folate or folacin), is needed for energy production and a strong immune system. It is also called Pteroylglutamic Acid, Folate, or Folacin and is a vitamin of the B complex group that is essential for the metabolic processes going on in our body. In humans, folic acid is necessary for the synthesis of nucleic acids and the formation of heme, the pigmented, iron-carrying component of the hemoglobin in red blood cells.
Folic acid helps to form the DNA and RNA in our genes, which are needed to regulate cell formation, red blood cells, skin cells, and the cells that line your small intestine.
Folic acid is essential for efficient neural tube development of the unborn baby, which forms the brain and spinal cord. Pregnant women with an insufficient intake of folic acid are more likely to give birth prematurely or to deliver babies with low birth weight or with neural tube defects.
There is some evidence that folic acid is actually better absorbed into the system in its supplemental form, especially when combined with vitamin B12 and vitamin C. Vitamin C prevents folic acid from being broken down too quickly in your body.
A new article in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that women who consume 1000 mcg folic acid per day may have a decreased risk of high blood pressure. Folic acid appears to relax the blood vessels.
Leafy vegetables such as spinach, turnip greens, lettuces, dried beans and peas, fortified cereal products, sunflower seeds and certain other fruits and vegetables are rich sources of folate.
Other natural sources of Vitamin B9 include fruits, especially bananas, oranges, and cantaloupe; brewer’s yeast, wheat germ, rice, barley, all kinds of beans and peas, milk, mushrooms, root vegetables, salmon, tuna, and asparagus.