Folic Acid

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General Description:

  • folate is another name for folic acid
  • folate is a water soluble vitamin

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  • folate is absolutely essential for healthy bones, for a healthy pregnancy, and for the metabolism of proteins, as it forms part of the vital transport coenzymes that control amino acid metabolism
  • necessary for the growth and division of all cells in the body and for the production of RNA and DNA, the nucleic acids that carry hereditary patterns
  • folate helps to prevent breakage of DNA which is probably a key step in the cancer process
  • folate may be able to turn precancerous conditions of the lung and cervix around
  • essential for the formation of RBCs
  • folic acid must be present in adequate amounts for iron to initiate hemoglobin synthesis
  • aids in protein metabolism and contributes to normal growth
  • essential for the healing process
  • helps build antibodies to prevent and heal infections
  • essential for the health of hair and skin
  • helps prevent premature graying of hair
  • long been used in the treatment of atherosclerosis, circulation problems, anemia, radiation injuries and burns, in the treatment of sprue, a tropical nutritional disease, anemia and acute diarrhea

Deficiency:

  • RDA is 200 mcg.
  • a deficiency of folic acid inhibits the growth of new cells, especially the rapidly dividing ones (eg. blood and muscle cells)
  • a deficiency of folic acid can cause a type of anemia (megaloblastic), with early symptoms of fatigue, loss of appetite, pallor, and inflammation of the tongue, a tell-tale sign.
  • other symptoms include: serious skin disorders, loss of hair, impaired circulation, a grayish-brown skin pigmentation, depression, reproductive disorders (spontaneous abortions, difficult labor, and high infant death rate), and loss of libido in males
  • most frequently the victims of folate deficiency are alcoholics, those suffering form malabsorption syndromes, and the elderly
  • folate can mask the signs of pernicious anemia, caused by vitamin B12 deficiency and B12 deficiency, although quite rare, can lead to irreversible nerve damage if left unchecked
  • folate needs increase during pregnancy
  • alcohol causes the body to excrete more folate than normal
  • many drugs interfere with folic acid nutrition: antibacterial, anticancer, anticonvulsant, antituberculosis, barbiturates, birth control pills, cortisone, sulfa drugs etc.

Interactions and Toxicity:

  • large doses of folate can mask the symptoms of pernicious anemia, a disorder marked by an inablity to absorb vitamin B12.
  • toxicity is low, but the FDA has restricted the dose to 400 mcg./day, because of its possibility of masking signs of pernicious anemia
  • high doses may interfere with your body’s abliity to absorb and retain zinc
  • increased zinc has been found in the blood in cases of folic acid deficiency

Sources:

  • dark-green leafy vegetables, legumes, asparagus, lima beans, Irish potatoes, brewer’s yeast, wheat germ, mushrooms, nuts, and egg yolk

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