Folic acid

Also known as Vitamin B9. Keywords: Pregnancy, ageing, alcoholism, skin, and nerves. Should be taken together with vitamin B12 and other B-vitamins.

Folic acid deficiency is the most common vitamin deficiency in the world and the cause of much illness, shortening of lives, and debilitation. The most important function of folic acid is its role in the nucleic acid synthesis and the amino acid metabolism.

Megaloblastic (pernicious) anemia (another form is caused by a vitamin B12 deficiency), poor memory, lethargy, irritability, isolation, reduced intellectual activity, chapped or peeled lips
(cheilosis), poor absorption and utilization of food (malabsorption) due to inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract.

Folic acid deficiency is often seen in cases of alcoholism, low intake of nutrients that contain folic acid combined with the consumption of junk food, malabsorption due to inflammation of the intestines (such as seen in Crohn's disease), diarrhoea and dysentery, haemolytic anaemia, and medicine poisoning - especially contraceptive pills and chemotherapeutic drugs (folic acid antagonists). Pregnancy, breast-feeding, and aging can also result in folic acid deficiency.

In case of a severe folic acid deficiency, the body refuses to absorb the vitamin which must then be given as an injection. Also nerve degeneration and brain damage with mental retardation and insanity can occur.

The information about Vitamin B12 and elderly, enfeebled and flurried patients is also applicable to folic acid. Also

Pregnancy problems and sterility can also be the results of a folic acid deficiency. Pregnant women can greatly reduce the chance of their child from being born with spina bifida and neural crest defects by taking a daily supplement.

Folic acid therapy can reduce the symptoms of pernicious anaemia which is caused by a vitamin B12 deficiency, but it cannot cure this condition or stop the nerve degeneration that accompanies the disease, and which cannot be repaired once it has occurred. In cases where a patient is suspected of suffering from pernicious anaemia, it is vital he or she is examined by a medical professional before treatment is started.

Folic acid is non-toxic. No negative reactions have been recorded with doses up to 10 mg. a day over a period of 5 years.

RDA:
200 µg.
Pregnant women: 400 µg.

Therapeutic dosages
General supplement: 2 mg a day
In case of severe deficiency: 40 mg a day.
Pregnant women: 400 - 800 µg a day.

Large single supplements are best utilized if taken in the evening.

Richest natural sources
Leaf-greens and green vegetables. Liver, nuts and grains. Intestinal bacteria produce folic acid, but it is doubtful whether it is absorbed by the body.

Also see "Vitamin B12 - Cyanokobalamin - Methylcobalamin".