Your Food and You: Vitamin B9 (Folate/Folic Acid)

We talked about Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) in our last post, and will be talking about Vitamin B9 in this post as a part of our Nutrition Month series on nutrients that give you energy from 9-5!

Vitamin B9 Folate (Folacin or Folic Acid) Our bodies can’t make folic acid. Therefore, it needs to be consumed in the diet. Folate has a vital role in making DNA and RNA (substances needed to make protein in the body), making it vital for normal growth and development:

  • Used in the production of new cells
  • Works with vitamin B12 to produce hemoglobin for red blood cell formation
  • Reduces risk of neural tube defects such as Spina Bifida
  • Reduces risk of cancer and heart disease
  • Important for healthy gums, red blood cells, skin and GI tract.

Not getting enough? Deficiency is common in people with a poor diet who don’t eat vegetables and fruits, and consume high fat and processed foods. It is also common in older populations due to the reduction in stomach acid production. Certain medications may reduce stomach acid, which will reduce absorption of this vitamin.

  • Symptoms may include anemia, fatigue, pale skin, shortness of breath, weight loss, and heart burn
  • Increased homocysteine levels (when elevated, it can cause damage to the arteries)

Who should consider a supplement?

  • People with a poor diet (who don’t eat vegetables every day)
  • People who abuse alcohol
  • People who are taking medication that can affect absorption (review medications with pharmacist)
  • People who suffer digestive disorders (celiac, Chrons, etc.)
  • Prior to and during pregnancy, it is recommended to take 600mcg folic acid daily
    • At least 400mcg of folic acid should come from a supplement and 200 mcg from diet
    • Folic acid is essential at the beginning of a pregnancy as it helps in the prevention of neural tube defects
  • Do not exceed more than 3000mcg per day from supplementation

Here’s our Fact Sheet below on how much you need, what that means in terms of food, and meal ideas to get vitamin B9 in your diet!

Download our PDF version here.

March 25, 2015
Revive Wellness