Vitamin B9 also called folate or folacin is the water-soluble B complex vitamin which plays a vital role in several bodily processes. Vitamin B9 is available in wide a range of dietary sources in the form of folate, the human body does not produce this vitamin, hence it should be complemented from the diet making it an essential vitamin. Also Read: Vitamin B9: Functions, Food Sources, Deficiencies and Toxicity
Folate is obtained from the Latin word folium which means green leafy vegetables being the finest sources of folate. Folic acid is the synthetic form of vitamin B9, which is mainly used as a supplement and fortified with food products such as cereals and flours.
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Vitamin B9 plays a crucial role in several bodily functions including growth, cell division, the formation of nucleic acids DNA and RNA and metabolism of amino acids. It is also important for the growth and reproduction of cells and tissue during different stages of growth including pregnancy, infancy, childhood and adolescence.
Folic acid is a vital supplement recommended for women during pregnancy as it averts congenital abnormalities of the spine or brain of the growing baby. It is also valuable for women who are planning for pregnancy to prevent sudden miscarriage. Folic acid functions to promote the brain health of the infant and prevent age-related hearing loss. Moreover, the potent anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of folate are helpful to reduce inflammation and pain associated with arthritis.
Deficiency of folate may result in megaloblastic anemia, where the red blood cells grow abnormally large. Folic acid deficiency also causes birth defects, increases the risk of cancer and elevated the level of homocysteine which can up the risk of stroke and heart disease.
Folate or vitamin B9 is available in a rich array of natural food sources such as dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, sunflower seeds, egg, fortified food products, etc., It is also available in the form of supplements. The recommended dietary allowance of folate for adult men and women is 200 mcg.
Check out this infographic to know more about folate-rich food options.