Folic acid, also known as vitamin B9, is a nutrient that participates in various body functions, such as:
- Maintaining brain health, preventing problems such as depression;
- Formation of the fetus nervous system during pregnancy;
- Strengthens the immune system;
- Prevents anemia, by stimulating the formation of blood cells;
- Prevents colon cancer by preventing changes in the cells' DNA;
- Prevents heart disease and strokes by reducing homocysteine and maintaining blood vessel health;
- Control the evolution of vitiligo.
To prevent malformations to the fetus such as spina bifida, women planning to become pregnant or who are pregnant should take supplements with folic acid following medical advice.
Foods rich 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)||Folic Acid (mcg)||Food (100g)||Folic Acid (mcg)|
|Corn Flakes||167||Collard green||78|
|Fried Cow Liver||350||Raw mushrooms||44|
|Baked Beans||210||Whole grain bread|
The recommended amount of folic acid a day varies with age, as shown in the following table:
|Age||Amount of Folic Acid|
|0 a 6 months||65 mcg|
|7 a 12 months||80 mcg|
|1 a 3 years||150 mcg|
|4 a 8 years||200 mcg|
|9 a 13 years||300 mcg|
|14 years or more||400 mcg|
|Pregnant women||600 mcg|
|Women who breastfeed||500 mcg|
Folic acid supplementation should always be done under medical guidance, and is usually recommended in cases of vitamin A deficiency, anemia, or during pregnancy.
Side effects and counter-indications of drug supplementation
Folic acid is a water-soluble vitamin and therefore its excess is easily eliminated through the urine. However, the use of folic acid supplements without medical guidance can cause problems like stomach pain, nausea, itchy skin and anemia. The maximum amount of this vitamin a day is 5000 mcg, an amount that is usually not exceeded with a balanced diet.
In people who take medication for seizures and rheumatism, the folic acid supplement should only be consumed if recommended by a doctor.