Posts tagged ‘folic acid’

Folic acid, also known as folate or folacin is a B vitamin, and is best known as the vitamin women need most during pregnancy – but they need an extra intake of others then including vitamin B6 as well. Folic acid is vital for good brain functioning and in pregnancy.

It is essential for us all to help our brains and nerves function properly, to form red blood cells, and for the use of protein. We need to get these folic acid benefits. It is one more vitamin B vitamin that is truly vital to our well being. It is soluble in water, so we need some every day.

Folic acid is converted in the body into an active form in a process involving vitamin C. Then folic acid works with vitamin B12 in the conversion of amino acids – these are the building blocks of protein. Because these two vitamins work together, the symptoms of deficiency of vitamin B12 and folic acid are identical.

Many people are deficient in folic acid – about 50% of the population of the USA do not get enough to match the recommended daily amount (RDA), which itself is low. The RDA is around 200 mg, compared with 400 mg until 1989. Then the RDA was lowered largely because not many people were getting 400 mg, and so it was thought the lower level must be all right.

This is amazing, because there was no evidence to show that the lower level was adequate. Some studies show that people in sedentary jobs (Oops! That includes me – good job I take a supplement) are building a long-term deficiency at 200 mg a day.

Deficiency of folic acid is one of the most common vitamin deficiencies. Symptoms of deficiency include irritability, weight loss, apathy, headaches, palpitations, paranoid behavior and diarrhea.

Unfortunately, a high dose of folic acid can mask symptoms of pernicious anemia, which is one reason why the FDA reduced the amount of the RDA. They also limit the maximum amount of folic acid that can be included in each pill to 400 mg. Some experts think that a dose of 800 mg may be needed for optimum health.

Folic acid can be taken in large doses without problems of toxicity; the only problem with large doses is this masking of pernicious anemia. If you need a large dose to gain optimum health, take it, and reduce the amount every so often if you think you may have problems with pernicious anemia.

The wonderful thing about taking vitamin and mineral supplements is that should you encounter any problems, you can easily overcome them or find out the real cause by reducing the amount you take. This is why I recommend a good multi-vitamin-mineral supplement as part of your daily routine.

The best sources are wheat germ, spinach, broccoli, peanuts, sprouts, asparagus, kidney beans and sesame seeds. Supplements should contain at least 100 mg folic acid.