Vitamin B9, which is also called folate or folic acid, is one of the prominent 8 B vitamins. These vitamins help the body change the food (carbohydrates) into fuel (glucose), which is then consumed to produce energy. These B vitamins, often called B-complex vitamins, also aid the body use proteins and fats. B-complex vitamins are needed for healthy eyes, hair, skin, and liver. They also aid the nervous system work properly. Folic acid is the synthetic form of B9, found in fortified foods and supplements, while folate occurs in foods naturally (Nordqvist, 2016). Folic acid is vital for proper brain function and plays a significant role in emotional and mental health. It helps in the production of RNA and DNA, the body's genetic material, and is exclusively important when tissues and cells are growing fast, such as in pregnancy, infancy, and adolescence. Folic acid works with vitamin B12 to aid make red blood cells and help iron work appropriately in the body (Folic Acid, 2017).
Vitamin B9 works with vitamins B12 and B6 and other nutrients to discipline blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine. High levels of homocysteine are connected to heart disease. Inflammatory bowels disease, celiac acid, and alcoholism can cause the deficiency of folic acid.
Folic acid deficiency can also cause tongue inflammation, diarrhea, forgetfulness, poor growth, gingivitis, irritability, shortness of breath, and mental sluggishness (Nordqvist, 2016). Pregnant women during their pregnancy need more folic acid to reduce the risk of neural tube birth defects, such as spina bifida, cleft palate, and brain damage. Neural tube defects are birth defects produced by the abnormal development of the neural tube, a structure that ultimately produces spinal cord and brain (Folic Acid, 2017).
Folate can protect the heart in several ways. It reduces the risk of heart diseases. People with high levels of homocysteine develop coronary artery diseases. However, folate and other B vitamins lower homocysteine levels in human body. Besides, a study explored that folic acid supplements slow down the problems related to aging, such as hair loss. Apart from that, it is found out that folic acid also helps people who suffer from depression (Folic Acid, 2017). In addition, it resists and counteracts different kinds of cancer, such as Colon cancer, Breast cancer, Cervical cancer, Pancreatic cancer, and Stomach cancer (Folic Acid, 2017).
Folic Acid. (2017). University of Maryland Medical Centre. Retrieved from http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/vitamin-b9-folic-acid. Accessed on 19 March 2017.
Nordqvist, C. (2016). Folic Acid: Importance, Deficiencies, and Side Effects. Medical News today. Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/219853.php. Accessed on 19 March 2017.