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Vitamin B9 Folic AcidFolic acid, or vitamin B9 (also called folate or folacin), is needed for energy production and a strong immune system. It is crucial to the good health of every cell in the body, including skin cells, the cells that line the small intestine, and red and white blood cells. Folic acid helps to form the DNA and RNA in our genes, which are needed to regulate cell formation, red blood cells, skin cells, and the cells that line your small intestine.
Beef and chicken liver, and leafy green vegetables such as broccoli, collards, chard, spinach, and romaine lettuce are all high in folic acid. And spinach is one of the best natural sources of Vitamin B6--one-half pound of fresh spinach contains 463 micrograms of folic acid, the total Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for most people!
Other natural sources of Vitamin B9 include fruits, especially bananas, oranges, and cantaloupe; brewer’s yeast, wheat germ, rice, barley, all kinds of beans and peas, milk, mushrooms, root vegetables, salmon, tuna, and asparagus.
As a testament to the benefits provided by B9, the FDA also now requires folic acid fortification of all breads, flours, corn meal, rice, noodles, pasta, and other grain products.
Regarding whether or not you should take Vitamin B9 supplements, it should be noted that folic acid is water-soluble (you absorb only about half of the folic acid you eat), and is easily destroyed by microwaving, processing, overcooking, or reheating. This makes it hard to get the RDA from your diet alone.
Also, there is some evidence that folic acid is actually better absorbed into the system in its supplemental form, especially when combined with vitamin B12 and vitamin C. Vitamin C prevents folic acid from being broken down too quickly in your body.
For everyone 11 years and older the Recommended Daily Allowance is 400 micrograms. Women need an additional 400 micrograms of folic acid each day during pregnancy, and an extra 100 micrograms while breastfeeding.
Because folic acid is needed for DNA and RNA genetic material to function correctly, it is crucial to the development of a normal fetus. All women of childbearing age should get the 400 micrograms each day, whether or not they think they are pregnant. Critical events in fetal development, such as regulation of nerve cell development in the embryo, occur during the first 6 weeks of pregnancy. Taking 400 micrograms of folic acid each day is proven to reduce the chance of Neural Tube Defect (NTD) by 50 and 75 percent! The most common forms of NTD are spina bifida (children are born with their spinal nerves exposed) and anencephaly (children are born with a brain that is underdeveloped).
Vitamin B9 Folic Acid, part 2
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