Folic acid is essential for the synthesis of DNA and RNA, the genetic material of cells, and plays a vital role in cell division and the formation of red and white blood cells. It is also involved in the synthesis of the amino acid methionine from homocysteine.
During pregnancy, it prevents birth defects such as neural tube defects (spina bifida) and facial malformations (harelip).
The natural form of folic acid, as found in food, is known as folate.
Legumes, fortified cereals, leafy green vegetables, yeast and liver are some of the richest sources of folate. It is also found in citrus fruits, eggs, bananas, melons, nuts, seeds and mushrooms.
|Approximate Folate Content|
Heat from cooking destroys 50 to 90% of folate found in foods.
Recommended average daily nutrient intake that is sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all (97 to 98%) healthy individuals in each age and gender group. The RDA should only be used as a guide for daily individual intake.
The average Canadian diet consists of 200 mcg (or 0.2 mg) of folate.
Persons taking certain medications may be advised to increase their folate intake.
Body stores are sufficient to meet the body's requirements for 4 months.
Symptoms include loss of appetite, anemia, diarrhea, inflamed tongue, nausea, heart failure and mouth ulcers.
No reported cases of toxicity.
Folic acid supplements are more readily absorbed by the body than food folate. 1 mg of food folate is equal to 0.6 mg of synthetic folic acid taken with food.
Taking more than 1 mg of folic acid per day should only be done under medical supervision as it can mask symptoms of anemia caused by a vitamin B12 deficiency and can lead to irreversible neurological damage.
Taking 1 mg of folic acid per day may be used to prevent low-dose methotrexate toxicity.
Folic acid could help prevent heart disease by reducing homocysteine as well as certain types of cancer.
The neural tube is the part of the embryo that will become the brain and spinal cord. Defects occur when the neural tube develops improperly, failing to close during the first weeks of pregnancy. To prevent neural tube malformations, women planning to become pregnant are advised to take folic acid supplements. It is important to discuss with your healthcare professional to determine the appropriate folic acid dose for you.
Watch what you eat. Diet has a significant impact on health!
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The patient information leaflets are provided by Vigilance Santé Inc. This content is for information purposes only and does not in any manner whatsoever replace the opinion or advice of your health care professional. Always consult a health care professional before making a decision about your medication or treatment.