Folic acid: a vitamin not only for pregnant women

Published At: 05 January 2020 , 10:12 AM

Folic acid, or vitamin B9, is one of the essential vitamins. Our body - more precisely, the intestinal microflora - can produce it on its own, but in tiny doses. Most folic acid should come from food. But there is a certain problem: the average citizen's diet is poor in foods that contain this valuable vitamin, so its deficiency is not uncommon.

What is folic acid, and why does the body need it

For many processes in the body, folic acid is needed. This substance is responsible for cell growth and DNA integrity. Violations of these processes lead to the formation of tumors, so folic acid to some extent prevents the appearance of neoplasms. Also, it is necessary for the proper functioning of the immune system, the work of the heart and blood vessels, and the synthesis of amino acids. Folic acid has a beneficial effect on the nervous system, and therefore on our mood and performance. And finally, folic acid is necessary for hematopoiesis - and so necessary that its deficiency can cause anemia. An interesting fact: Artificially synthesized folic acid appeared 70 years ago - in 1947. There is an opinion that the additional intake of folic acid is necessary only during pregnancy. But this is a myth. Expectant mothers should take folic acid since a lack of this vitamin increases the risk of miscarriage and premature birth, abnormalities in the fetus and postpartum depression in the mother. During childbearing, the need for folic acid increases, however, this vitamin is necessary for almost everyone.

What is the danger of folic acid deficiency and excess

Folic acid levels can be determined very accurately by taking a blood test? Normal values ​​range from 7 to 45 nmol / L. These are truly microscopic doses, but even their slight increase or decrease leads to extremely unpleasant consequences.

Folic acid deficiency

Most often, folic acid deficiency is due to malnutrition. However, dysbiosis and intestinal diseases often lead to vitamin deficiency, in which this vitamin ceases to be absorbed. The absorption of folic acid is adversely affected by anticonvulsants, oral contraceptives, barbiturates, and alcohol. If vitamin B9 is not enough, the following consequences are possible: Megaloblastic anemia - this is the type of anemia in which the number of red blood cells decreases and their normal functioning is impaired. Symptoms of this disease are digestive disorders, hair loss, constant fatigue, and sores on the oral mucosa. Numerous problems during pregnancy - premature birth, detachment of the placenta, early miscarriage. Infertility in both sexes, but more so in women. Fetal pathologies - from mental retardation and hydrocephalus to problems with the development of the circulatory system and "cleft lip." Bad mood, which over time can turn into clinical depression. Cognitive impairment - memory impairment, insomnia, constant fatigue, nervousness, causeless anxiety, and aggressiveness. Symptoms of folic acid deficiency appear very quickly - 5-30 days after lowering its level in the blood. The first signs of vitamin B9 deficiency are fatigue, lack of appetite, and irritability. Symptoms are nonspecific, so most simply do not pay attention to them. And in vain - folic acid deficiency is one of the most widespread types of vitamin deficiency. In some regions, it occurs in 100% of the population, and even in the most prosperous places, every fifth suffers from a lack of folic acid. If you do not take measures and do not ensure the supply of this vitamin, anemia may develop in 3-4 months, in which the symptoms will constantly intensify.

Excess folic acid

Obtaining an excess of folic acid is quite difficult. It is a water-soluble vitamin, and all excess is usually quickly excreted in the urine without harm. Problems can occur with severe liver and kidney diseases. Excess folic acid threatens: In pregnancy, an excessive increase in fetal weight. It also increases the risk of obesity and diabetes in a child. Other consequences are possible - asthma, a tendency to allergies. In men, there is a slight increase in the risk of developing prostate neoplasms. Changes in behavior - increased and causeless excitability, insomnia, irritability. Often, people with excess vitamin B9 complain of a bitter or metallic taste in their mouths.

Daily intake and nutritional sources of vitamin

To maintain a normal level of vitamin B9 in the blood, daily intake is necessary. Infants up to 6 months of age should receive 65 mcg of folic acid per day, from 6 months to a year - 80 mcg, from a year to 3 years - 150 mcg, from 3 years to adolescence - 200 mcg. The optimal daily dose of folic acid for adults is 400 mcg per day, and pregnant women need a little more - up to 600 mcg. The need for folic acid increases during recovery from injuries and operations, with active sports, it is also necessary for older people. Champion in Vitamin B9 - Greens. Spinach, lettuce, and cabbage are invaluable sources of this substance. It is from them that folic acid got its name (in Latin, folium means "leaf"). Vitamin B9 is also rich in green onions, broccoli, and generally all dark green vegetables. A significant amount of folic acid found in walnuts, peanuts, tomatoes, citrus fruits, beets, sprouted wheat, beans, buckwheat, beef, and chicken liver. By the way, folic acid is a brittle substance that breaks down when exposed to high temperatures. During heat treatment, 70–90% of all folic acid found in vegetables is lost, 95% of this vitamin, which found in meat, and more than half in eggs. Many of these products are infrequent guests at our table. Also, greens grown in the greenhouse contain less folic acid than fruits and vegetables from organic gardens. However, not every family can afford to buy food inexpensive farmers' markets constantly.

Folic Acid Tablets

If you are deficient in vitamin B9, you should take it extra. There are many suitable vitamin complexes, dietary supplements, and pure vitamin B9 preparations. The easiest option is pure vitamin B9 tablets. It is suitable for cases when correction only required of the level of folic acid, and the content of the remaining vitamins is in order. It is important to pay attention to the dosage: high-dose drugs intended for the treatment of severe forms of vitamin B9 deficiency, they can not be taken for prevention, just in case. Vitamin complexes with folic acid have one important plus - in addition to vitamin B9, they also contain other substances that help to absorb it. In particular, vitamin C is necessary for the normal absorption of folic acid. Multivitamin complexes for pregnant women usually contain an increased dose of folic acid, as well as other substances necessary for the future mother's body. Supplements are not much different from vitamins - like vitamin complexes; they have not considered a medicine and are used to prevent hypovitaminosis and increase the level of folic acid with a slight deficiency. If vitamins are mainly produced in the form of dragees and tablets, dietary supplements are more diverse - it can be chewing pastilles, powders for the preparation of protein shakes, effervescent tablets for breeding. Yeast preparations often added to dietary supplements with folic acid - they are a valuable source of this vitamin. Whatever form of release you choose, before you start taking it, be sure to consult your doctor and discuss with him the optimal daily dose of folic acid. The required amount of B9 is individual, and it varies depending on age, lifestyle, and health.