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a B-Vitamin that impacts DNA

Folic Acid Awareness


Folic acid or folate, is a B vitamin found in many leafy green vegetables, grains, beans, fortified breakfast cereals, and pasta. It helps the body in building and maintaining DNA. It helps the body to make new cells, especially the red blood cells. It was named after the Latin word for leaf (folium), because this was found to be present in spinach and other green leafy vegetables. Folic acid was identified first in the 1930s and was found to prevent anemic condition (low red blood cell levels).

Significance of Folic acid

It is believed that low levels of folic acid can lead to changes in the chemicals that affect DNA. This may result in alteration of the repair mechanism of the cells and improper division of cells. This situation may lead to cancer. Folic acid may also be involved in making the cells to turn certain genes on and off. Folic acid helps in preventing birth defects of the brain and spine in which the brain, spinal cord, or their protective coverings do not fully develop (neural tube defects). These defects occur very early in pregnancy, even before the woman knows she is pregnant. Spina bifida is one of the commonest type of neural tube defect.

Common folate-deficiency symptoms include macrocytic anemia, diarrhea, shortness of breath, weakness, nerve damage, weakness and limb numbness, pregnancy-related complications, sore or swollen tongue, peptic ulcer, mouth ulcers, headaches, heart palpitations, behavioral disorders, irritability, mental confusion, forgetfulness, general cognitive decline, and mental depression. Low levels of folate can also result in homocysteine accumulation.

Recommended Folate Intake

Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) developed by the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) at the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies (formerly National Academy of Sciences) recommends that any one above 14 years must take 400mcg/day. Pregnant women are recommended to consume 600mcg/day and Lactating mother are recommended 500 mcg/day. The range varies from 65mcg/day to 400 mcg/day for new borns till 13 years. This IOM document contains the details. Always discuss with your physician before starting a routine.

Folic Acid Excess

Since 1998, the United States has enriched the grain products with folate, Therefore, one method is to fortify breakfast cereals etc., Folic acid is considered a safe and necessary dietary nutrient since it is a water-soluble vitamin and any excess folic acid is excreted in the urine. American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends eating healthy foods coming from plant sources, rather than supplements, though supplements do help pregnant women, women of childbearing age, and people with restriction to food intake. However, extremely large doses may cause trouble sleeping or a stomach upset. Sometimes folic acid can mask symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency by correcting the anemia. High doses of folic acid may interfere with the effectiveness of some drugs similar to the chemotherapy drug methotrexate.

Watch the Video: Folic acid and Healthy Pregnancy

Folic acid intake study !


"We find a high level of women have heard of folic acid, but when we get down to the nitty-gritty of actually taking a multivitamin every day, the number drops down to one-third. We want to educate women to change their behavior."

~ Gail Rampersaud

Disclaimer: The above content is provided for information and awareness purpose only. It is not prescriptive or suggestive or meant to replaces your qualified physician's advice or consultation.