Folic acid, also known as folate, is an important member of the water-soluble B-group vitamins. It received its name from the Latin word folium, meaning âfoliageâ, because it is found in natureâs leafy green vegetables, such as spinach, kale and beet greens.
Folic Acid carries out a variety of functions in the human body from assisting in the formation of nucleic acid, essential for growth and reproduction, to stimulating the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach.
Despite the wide occurrence of Folic Acid in food, it is still the most common vitamin deficiency in the world. In addition to a dietary lack, alcohol and prescription drugs, like oestrogens, impair Folic Acid metabolism. In Folic Acid deficiency all parts of the body are affected, particularly the rapidly dividing cells like red blood cells and cells of the gastrointestinal and genital tract. This results in retarded growth, diarrhoea, anaemia, gingivitis, and abnormal smears in women. Macrocytic anaemia as a result of folic acid deficiency is characterised by enlarged red blood cells. Other symptoms include depression, insomnia, irritability, forgetfulness, loss of appetite, fatigue and shortness of breath.
Since Folic Acid is important to the division of cells in the body, it is even more essential during times of growth, such as pregnancy where rapid cell multiplication takes place. If there is a deficiency of folic acid at this time, the result is decreased nucleic acid synthesis (for RNA and DNA) and interrupted cell division. Folic acid is essential for the development of the foetal spinal cord and nervous system.
During the first trimester of pregnancy, one of the biggest fears for a parent comes from the threat of congenital defects, such as spina bifida (incomplete closure of the spine), hydrocephaly and impaired brain development. Statistically neural tube defects occur in approximately one to two of every 1000 live births.
Researchers from the University of Otago recommend the use of Folic Acid in pregnancy, used both several weeks before conception and in the first trimester of pregnancy. Supplementation with Folic Acid has been associated with a massive 70% reduction in neural tube defects. Wise supplementation with Folic Acid can lower the risks.
The average RDI for pregnancy of Folic Acid is approximately 800 - 1200 mcgs (Obstetricians can recommended that high-risk women should receive up to 5mg of folic acid).
Folic Acid (Vitamin B9) 500mcg
Direction for use
One tablet a day (with food) or as advised by a health professional.
Indications for Use :
Folic Acid supplements may be useful in the prevention and treatment of macrocytic anaemia.
Folic Acid supplementation is important both prior to and during the first trimester of pregnancy to reduce the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida, hydrocephaly and impaired brain development.
Folic Acid deficiency symptoms such as diarrhoea, gingivitis, depression, insomnia, irritability, forgetfulness, loss of appetite, fatigue and shortness of breath should benefit from Folic Acid supplementation.