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Other names

  • folate
  • vitamins B9

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Definition
Folic acid is a B vitamin artificially obtained and used to supplement certain vitamins and added to fortified foods.

Folate is the natural form of vitamin B complex, and is found naturally in some foods.

Folic acid works along with vitamin B12 and vitamin C to help the body digest and utilize proteins and to synthesize new proteins when needed. It is necessary in the production of red blood cells and DNA synthesis (nucleic acids). Folic acid collaborates with cell function and growth of tissues. It also helps to increase appetite when needed and stimulates the formation of digestive acids.

Folic acid and pregnancy
Folic acid is one of the most important vitamins before and during pregnancy because adequate intake lowers the risk that the unborn child suffer neural tube defects. The neural tube is the structure in the fetus that give rise to the brain and spinal cord of the baby, if this neural tube does not close properly mature and certain defects may occur such as spina bifida and anencephaly. Anencephaly is not compatible with life and spina bifida can cause symptoms of infantile paralysis, loss of bowel and bladder control and learning problems.

Folic acid requirements
In pregnancy, to reduce the chances of neural tube defects is necessary, at least, consumption of folic acid from 1 month before pregnancy through the third month of the same.

Women of childbearing age should take 5 milligrams of folic acid daily, 3 months before pregnancy, regardless of their view of pregnancy as part pregnancies are unplanned and unwanted. The start taking this dose after confirming the pregnancy does not prevent the occurrence of neural tube defects. It must continue until the third month of pregnancy.

Sources of folic acid
The appropriate dose is 5 milligrams per day; this dose can be taken with fortified breakfast cereals, confirming that the dose is correct (see the content on the label). Sometimes you should take more than one dose since the content is less per cup.

Most vitamin complexes carry this amount and may be a sufficient source of folic acid; It must also confirmed on the label.

Vegetables, oranges and beef liver contain amounts of naturally occurring folates well complement a balanced diet of this vitamin.

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