(Folic acid, Foliate)
Vitamin B9 is required for DNA synthesis and cell growth and is important for red blood cell formation, energy production as well as the forming of amino acids. It is vital for healthy cell division and replication because of its involvement as a coenzyme for RNA and DNA synthesis. The body replaces all of its cells every nine months and one of the keys to preventing cancer is to have healthy cellular division. Errant cells can cause cancer cells therefore consuming foods rich in folic acid can help fight off carcinogens preventing various forms of cancer.
It is also essential for creating heme, the iron containing substance in haemoglobin which is crucial for oxygen transport. It is also required for protein metabolism and in treating folic acid anaemia and is essential for normal foetal development. Folic acid also assists in digestion and the nervous system and works at improving mental as well as emotional health and therefore may be effective in treating depression and anxiety.
The relationship between vitamin B12, vitamin B9 (foliate) and iron is a good example of the complex way in which some essential nutrients help keep the body healthy. Vitamin B12 is indirectly responsible for raising the blood iron level to keep it in a healthy range. Vitamin B12 activates an enzyme called methionine synthase that has many essential functions, including helping the body use vitamin B9 (foliate), which is needed for production of new DNA during cell division. Normally, about one percent of the red blood cells in the circulation are replaced by new cells each day, so that their number always remains adequate to provide oxygen to all cells, tissues and organs. If vitamin B-12 is lacking, usable vitamin B9 can become low, slowing production of new red blood cells in the bone marrow. Eventually, this problem can lead to low levels of iron in the blood as old red cells wear out and die but are not effectively replaced.
Deficiency of vitamin B9
When there is a deficiency of vitamin B9, acne, a sore tongue, cracking at the corners of the mouth and fatigue can occur which are the same symptoms shown by a deficiency of vitamin B2, vitamin B6 as well as iron. Long term deficiency may result in anaemia and later in osteoporosis, as well as cancer of the bowel and cervix. Deficiency in an unborn baby may increase the risk of the baby being born with spina bifida and other serious defects of the nervous system therefore pregnant women must consume natural foods rich in vitamin B9.
Coffee has a mild diuretic effect, which increases urination and water
soluble vitamins, such as the
B vitamins, can be depleted as a
result of this fluid loss. In addition, it also interferes with the
metabolism of some B vitamins, such as
vitamin B9. Prolonged diarrhoea, drinking excessive alcohol and liver disease impairs the body's ability to absorb vitamin B9. Athletes, dancers and others involve in extreme physical activities may become deficient in vitamin B9 due to excessive perspiration and fluid loss.
See Performers and Sports Nutrition
Highest sources of vitamin B9 in milligrams per 100 grams
Yeast extract 3786 µg
Brewer’s yeast 2340 µg
Chicken livers 578 µg
Basil 310 µg
Wheat germ 281 µg
Sunflower seeds 238 µg
Soya beans 205 µg
Spinach 194 µg
Lentils 181 µg
Chick peas, pinto beans 172 µg
Shiitake mushrooms 163 µg
Parsley 152 µg
Black beans 149 µg
Peanuts 145 µg
Navy beans 140 µg
Asparagus 135 µg
Turnip greens 118 µg
NOTE: The recommended daily allowance of vitamin B9 is 400 µg for adults. One µg is one microgram.
Pregnancy and childbirth
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