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Vitamin B6 Pyridoxine Health Benefit
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Vitamin B9 Folic Acid Deficiency
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Vitamin B9 Folic Acid Deficiency & Folic Acid Food Source

Folic Acid Deficiency

Folic acid deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the United States and can result in megaloblastic anemia, which is characterized by a reduced number of red blood cells. Side effects of anemia include weakness, fatigue, headache, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and shortness of breath. Folic acid works closely with other nutrients such as vitamin B12.

Folic Acid Deficiency Symptoms

Folate deficiency occurs in a number of situations. For example, low dietary intake and diminished absorption, as in alcoholism, can result in a decreased supply of folate. Certain conditions like pregnancy or cancer result in increased rates of cell division and metabolism, leading to an increase in the body's demand for folic acid. Several medications may also contribute to deficiency

Folic acid deficiency may have the following symptoms:

1). Megaloblastic anemia, in which red blood cells are large and uneven in size
2). Weakness
3). Irritability
4). Lack of energy
5). Loss of appetite
6). Paleness
7). Sore, red tongue
8). Mild mental symptoms, such as forgetfulness and confusion
9). Diarrhea

Who are likely to be deficient in Folic Acid?

Folic Acid is one of the vitamins which many people are deficient in, especially among women. One recent study estimated that 88% of all Americans are deficient in this vitamin. If you fall in one of the following categories, you maybe at higher risk for folic acid deficiency:

  • People are 55 years of age or older
  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Women who use oral contraceptives
  • Those who abuse alcohol or other drugs
  • Anyone with inadequate caloric or nutritional dietary intake or nutritional dietary intake
  • People with increased nutritional requirements
  • People with a chronic wasting illness, AIDS/HIV
  • People with recent severe burns or injuries
  • People under excess stress for long periods

Folic Acid Food Source - Foods High in Folic Acid

Folic acid is an important B vitamin for pregnancy that can significantly lower the risk of serious birth defects of the brain and spinal cord. Most people can get an adequate amount of folic acid from the food they eat. However, alcoholics and pregnant women may be at higher risk of folic acid deficiency

All women of child bearing age should consume 400 mcg of folic acid daily. Every agency and organization concerned with birth defects, from the FDA to the March of Dimes, strongly endorsed this recommendation. And in 1998, the DRI was raised to 600 mcg a day for pregnant women.

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Rich dietary source of folic acid include:

  1. Dark green, leafy vegetables
  2. Oranges and grapefruits
  3. Whole wheat bread
  4. Nuts and seeds
  5. Sprouts
  6. Enriched grain products
  7. Liver and other organ meats
  8. Poultry
  9. Beans and peas
  10. Fortified breakfast cereals

Folic Acid Side Effects

Although side effects of folic acid is not common, there are some side effects when large doses of folic acid is taken. Folic acid side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Decreased appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Allergic reaction (difficulty breathing, swelling of lips, tongue, face, or hives)
  • Sleeping problems
  • Irritability and increase in activity level
  • Loose stools and diarrhea
  • Difficulty concentrating

Health Benefit of Folic Acid

Folic Acid and Heart Disease

Like most heart - conscientious people, you already know that high cholesterol is a warning sign of possible heart disease. But what you don't know is that most people who have a first heart attack have normal cholesterol levels. Cholesterol isn't causing the problem, it's due to high blood levels of homocysteine, an amino acid found naturally in your body damages the lining of your arteries.

The next question is, what causes the homocysteine to build up to dangerous levels? Here, too, the answer is very clear: not enough folic acid. Working with Pyridoxine and cobalamin, folic acid quickly breaks down the homocysteine and removes it from your body before it can do any damage. Not enough folic acid, and the homocysteine hangs around too long, attacking your artery walls. All you need to prevent this is 1 to 2 mg of folic acid per day. Getting more folic acid from the vitamin B9 supplements, is simple, safe, and cheap - and it could save your life. By some estimates, just 1 mg a day could be enough to prevent 50,000 heart attacks a year.

Folic Acid and Colon Cancer

Folic acid helps prevent colon cancer. Recent studies show that people with low folic-acid levels are more likely to get colon cancer. If you're a women and get enough folic acid daily (from diet and supplements) for instance, your chances of colon cancer are sharply lower - by as much as 60%.

People with ulcerative colitis (UC), a serious chronic disease of the large intestine, have an increased risk of getting colon cancer - and they also often have low folic acid levels. Recent studies show that UC patients who take 1 mg a day of extra folic acid cut their chances of colon cancer nearly in half. If you have ulcerative colitis, taking some folic acid supplements is strongly recommended.

Folic Acid Recommended Dietary Allowance

Daily recommendations for dietary vitamin B9 folic acid are listed below.

Children and Youth:

Infants 0-6 months: 65 mcg/day
Infants 7-12 months: 80 mcg/day
Children 1-3 years: 150mcg/day
Children 4-8 years: 200 mcg/day
Children 9-13 years: 300 mcg/day
Adolescents 14-18 years: 400 mcg/day (female) 400 mcg/day (male)


Adults 19 years and older: 400 mcg/day (female) 400 mcg/day (male)
Pregnancy all ages: 600 mcg/day
Breastfeeding all ages: 500 mcg/day


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