Folic acid, or vitamin B9, is a vital water-soluble vitamin that is involved in a number of important metabolic reactions in the human body. Also, B9 is one of the indispensable elements in the process of DNA formation, is involved in the physiological, that is, correct, development of the fetus.
The name of the vitamin comes from the Latin folium – “leaf” . The fact is that for the first time, scientists discovered folic acid in food in large quantities precisely in the leaves of greenery: parsley, basil, dill, lettuce, and spinach.
Studies have shown that a sufficient supply of folic acid is not created in the human body. Even provided that the daily diet consists solely of vegetables, the body cannot independently provide itself with the necessary amount of folic acid. This must be understood and does not rely only on the diet.
Folic Acid During Pregnancy
In conditions such as pregnancy, sore throat, prolonged use of antibiotics, stress, flu, vitamin B9 reserves are almost completely consumed by the body within two weeks. Using folic acid supplementation in your diet, anyone today can cover or prevent a lack of vitamin B9 with subsequent painful conditions.
Benefits of Folic Acid
So, let’s look at the functions of folic acid in the body
This is a vitamin that is not synthesized either in the liver or in the kidneys, but which must be supplied from the outside every day. A very small amount of vitamin B9 is synthesized by the beneficial intestinal microflora, and this is not enough to cover the costs of the vitamin by the body.
Why is it so important to us:
- he participates in the process of the formation of new cells! It provides the process of DNA replication – it’s doubling. This is the only way to form new cells in the human body.
- Vitamin B9 is important in the formation of new blood cells – namely, in their maturation
Not ripened red blood cells, red blood cells lose their properties. Such red blood cells are called megaloblasts, and the disease associated with them is megaloblastic anemia.
Symptoms of a shortage in the initial stages are “common” :
- bad dream
- daytime sleepiness
- insomnia at night
- decreased performance
- susceptibility to seasonal infections
Due to megaloblastic anemia, all organs lack oxygen, which is why a separate pathological process begins in each of them.
The reason for all of the above may be a banal lack of vitamin B9. Using megaloblastic anemia as an example, we have shown the importance of taking folic acid supplementation to prevent painful conditions. The examples cited are far from everything in which vitamin B9 is involved.
Folic Acid During Pregnancy
Let us consider in more detail the significance of folic acid for pregnant women and children.
According to the WHO, the folic acid deficiency is found in more than half of modern women. Moreover, this mainly applies to young women. And since during pregnancy and lactation, the body uses all the beneficial substances intensely, including B9 – with a deficiency of the vitamin, there are corresponding violations in the development of the fetus.
Large-scale clinical studies have shown that taking supplements with B9 can almost completely (80%) be able to level the deficiency of folic acid within two to three months before the planned date of pregnancy.
The fact is that in pregnant women part of the folic acid goes to an intensively growing organism – the baby, so the mother does not receive the required amount.
As stated above, vitamin B9 is required for DNA replication processes. It is this process that is most important for the embryo, fetus, and subsequently for the child. Indeed, the correctness of the laying and development of the child’s internal organs, including the heart and brain, depends on the “quality” of cell division.
The process of formation of the neural tube of the fetus, from which subsequently the entire nervous system is formed – from nerve fibers to the cerebral cortex, occurs at the first stages of pregnancy. Therefore, it is especially important to observe the target level of folic acid in the first trimester of pregnancy.
The first symptoms of B9 deficiency in pregnant women are noticeable after a week:
- the pallor of the skin
- emotional lability (constant mood swings from joy to irritation and back)
- having problems with cognitive functions
- including memory
- ability to concentrate decreases
- skin rash may appear in the form of blackheads or age spots
Such symptoms are conceived erroneously attributed to overwork, bad weather, and other causes. But, the reason for the “bad” condition is commonplace – a deficiency of folic acid.
The solution is very simple – as much as possible food rich in vitamin B9, and regular intake of a nutritional supplement containing the natural vitamin. Let’s try to figure out how to choose folic acid.
How to take folic acid
Convenient release forms
- chewable tablets
- liquid form
- candy canes
- vegetable capsules
Dosage 400 or 800
When choosing a dietary supplement, you must take into account the frequency of daily intake. Most often, there are drugs that provide a daily rate in one or two doses.
Vitamin B9 is available in a convenient dosage: 400 mcg, 800 mcg, 1 mg. This diversity is due to different indications for taking a certain dose. So, the initial stages of the prevention of B9 deficiency are often carried out with an additive containing 800 μg, and only then they switch to 400 μg of B9. At the same time, it is recommended to repeat the course of taking B9 with a dose of 800 mcg two to three times a year.
Folate or Folic Acid?
Vitamin B9 in the form of methyl folate is often found in food additives – this is one of the forms of the vitamin that has the most pronounced activity. The fact is that folic acid itself is not a sufficiently active substance. For example, it is not able to penetrate the blood-brain barrier and enter the brain. In order to pass this barrier, B9 must turn into a more active form of folate. Folate is the common name for B9 substances.
“Activating” B9 is often easy. However, sometimes folic acid metabolism is difficult due to a number of hereditary disorders due to the MTHFR gene. As a result, the bioavailability of vitamin in the amount we need is sharply reduced.
Therefore, the release of an already activated substance, methyl folate, has been established. It is important that methyl folate easily and unhindered enters the vascular bed, after which it is used by the cells of the body. In addition, methyl folate is not toxic, which makes it absolutely safe for a healthy human body.
Vitamin B9 Daily Intake
Folic acid, available as a supplement, has an advantage over that found in food. The bioavailability of the vitamin from the supplement is several times higher.
The need for vitamin depends on a number of criteria, including age, occupation, alcohol consumption (reduces the supply of vitamin B9 in the body), as well as pregnancy.
Here are the doses recommended by the World Health Organization, depending on age:
- Up to 1 year – 50 mcg / day;
- 1-3 years – 70 mcg / day;
- 4-6 years – 100 mcg / day;
- 6-10 years – 150 mcg / day;
- 11 years and older – 200 mcg / day.
A pregnant woman needs an increased amount of B9 – 200 μg / day is added to the age norm. For example, a pregnant woman aged 40 in the first trimester needs to consume 400 mcg/day of vitamin B9. It should be noted that the benefits and necessity of taking folate during pregnancy have been proven by WHO.
During the lactation period – breastfeeding, it is necessary to consume 60-100 mcg/day more than the age norm.
In some cases, pregnant women are advised to consume 800 micrograms of folic acid per day daily. This tactic is used with the initially known deficiency of B9, with frequent acute respiratory diseases, megaloblastic anemia, a number of chronic diseases and other conditions.
Also, a dosage of 800 mcg is used in the treatment of diseases associated with B9 hypovitaminosis, during periods of increased physical and mental activity, stress and for rapid replenishment of folic acid stores.
In addition, large dosages are convenient in that in this form, the supplement can be taken not every day, but every two to three days.
The course of taking a dietary supplement with folic acid.
- A person needs to consume a certain amount of folic acid daily. This is necessary so that the level of folate in the blood does not fall below the normal value of 5-20 μg / L.
- The importance of taking the supplement every day is based on the fact that folates are very quickly excreted from the body – for example, 1% of folate with urine is lost per day, in addition, the part is spent on various metabolic processes.
- Folic acid must be consumed continuously. Depending on your dosage, once or twice a day.
- It is advisable to consume vitamin B9 with food, the sooner the better. Taking vitamin B9 in the evening can stimulate the nervous system and temporarily impair sleep quality. A daily intake, on the contrary, will add vitality and contribute to any activity.