What folic acid is and what it is for

Folic acid, also known as vitamin B9 or folate, is a water-soluble vitamin that is part of the B complex and that participates in various functions of the body, mainly in the formation of DNA and the genetic content of cells.

In addition, folic acid is important for maintaining brain, vascular, and immune system health. This vitamin can be found in various foods such as spinach, beans, brewer’s yeast, and asparagus, however, it can also be obtained in supplement form that can be found in pharmacies or health food stores.

What is folic acid for

Folic acid can be used for various purposes in the body, such as:

  • Maintain brain health , preventing problems such as depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s, as folic acid participates in the synthesis of dopamine and norepinephrine;
  • Promote the formation of the fetal nervous system during pregnancy , preventing defects in the neural tube, such as spina bifida and anencephaly;
  • Prevent anemia , as it stimulates the formation of blood cells, including red blood cells, platelets and white blood cells;
  • Prevent some types of cancer , such as colon, lung, breast and pancreas cancer, since folic acid participates in the expression of genes and in the formation of DNA and RNA and, therefore, its consumption can prevent malignant genetic alterations in cells;
  • Prevent cardiovascular diseases , as it maintains the health of blood vessels and reduces homocysteine, which can influence the development of these diseases.

In addition, folic acid can also strengthen the immune system as it participates in the formation and repair of DNA, however no further studies are needed to prove this effect.

Foods high in folic acid

The following table shows foods rich in folic acid and the amount of this vitamin in 100 g of each food.

Food (100 g)Evil. Fólico (mcg)Food (100 g)Evil. Fólico (mcg)
Cooked spinach108Cooked broccoli61
Cooked turkey liver666Papaya38
Boiled beef liver220Banana30
Cooked chicken liver770Brewer’s yeast3912
Cooked black beans149Manga14
Hazelnut71Cooked white rice61
Cooked brussels sprouts86Cashew nut68
Peanut125Sunflower seeds138
Cooked beets80Avocado62
Cooked salmon34Cooked beans36

Recommended amount of folic acid

The amount of folic acid consumed per day may vary according to age, as shown below:

  • 0 to 6 months:  65 mcg;
  • 7 to 12 months:  80 mcg;
  • 1 to 3 years:  150 mcg;
  • 4 to 8 years:  200 mcg;
  • 9 to 13 years:  300 mcg;
  • 14 years or older:  400 mcg;
  • Pregnant women:  600 mcg;
  • Breastfeeding women:  500 mcg.

Supplementation with folic acid should always be carried out under medical guidance, being recommended in cases of deficiency of this vitamin, in cases of anemia and for pregnant women. Here’s how to take folic acid .

Side effects and contraindications of supplementation

Folic acid is a water-soluble vitamin and therefore its excess is easily eliminated through urine. However, using folic acid supplements without medical advice can cause problems such as stomach pain, nausea, itchy skin or anemia. The maximum amount of this vitamin per day is 5000 mcg, an amount that is usually not exceeded with a balanced diet.

In the case of the use of drugs for seizures or rheumatism, the folic acid supplement should only be consumed under medical advice.

Learn more about the folic acid supplement.

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