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Why Folate is so Important

February 4, 2017 •

Folate is a water soluble B vitamin, also known as Vitamin B9. Folate is crucial for synthesizing and repairing DNA. It is necessary for all cell division and growth and for numerous other bodily functions.[1]

The human body cannot produce folate on it's own, like some other nutrients, so adequate dietary intake is necessary to remain healthy. A lack of sufficient folates from the diet will result in folate deficiency. It is such an important nutrient that federal law requires folic acid be added to many food items such as cereals, pastas, and other baked goods to help prevent deficiency in the population.

Folate is necessary in the production of red blood cells. Folate is very important for pregnant woman and to the growth of the spinal chord and brain in developing fetuses. Deficiency can contribute to neural tube defects in fetuses.

Symptoms of folate deficiency include: fatigue, grey hair, mouth ulcers, swollen tongue, and poor growth. Digestive system diseases, poor diet, abuse of alcohol, hemolytic anemia, and certain medications may cause or contribute to folate deficiency.[2]

New research suggests that folic acid may actually impair folate metabolism in some individuals which can contribute to deficiency.

[1] Linus Pauling Institute. Micronutrient Information Center. Folate.
http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/folate

[2] NIH. U.S. National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus. Folate Deficiency.
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000354.htm

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