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Home :: Vitamin B9

Vitamin B9 - Benefits, Deficiency Symptoms And Food Sources

Alternative name : Folic acid, Folate, Folacin and Pteroylglutamic acid

What is Vitamin B9 ?

Vitamin B9 is also known as folacin, folic acid, or pteroylglutamic acid (PGA). Vitamin B9 is considered a brain food, and is needed for energy production and the formation of red blood cells. Vitamin B9 has received much attention lately for its role in preventing low birth weightin infants and premature birth, as well as neural tube defects, such as spina bifida and anencephaly, in developing fetuses. Vitamin B9 is a water soluble vitamin, still can be stored in the liver, therefore doesn't need to be taken daily to avoid depletion and deficiency symptoms.

Like other B vitamins, folic acid aids in the formation of red blood cells, the metabolism of protein, and the synthesis of DNA and RNA. It is also important for cell division and replication. The vitamin helps manufacture white blood cells and is necessary for immune-system functioning.

Benefits of Vitamin B9

Vitamin B9 is involved in protein metabolism and has been used in the prevention and treatment of folic acid anemia. This nutrient may also help depression and anxiety, and may be effective in the treatment of uterine cervical dysplasia.

Vitamin B9 may be the most important nutrient in regulating homocysteine levels. Homocysteine is an amino acid that is naturally formed in the body as the result of the breakdown of another amino acid, methionine. In recent years, high levels of homocysteine have been found to be associated with an increased risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries due to the accumulation of fatty plaques). Normally, homocysteine is converted to other, non-harmful amino acids in the body. In order for this conversion to take place as it should, the body needs an adequate supply of folate, as well as of vitamins B6 and B12. Homocysteine levels in red blood cells have been shown to have an inverse relationship to levels of these three important B vitamins-that is, the lower the levels of these vitamins, the higher the level of homocysteine.

Vitamin B9 is very important in pregnancy. It helps to regulate embryonic and fetal nerve cell formation, which is vital for normal development. Studies have shown that a daily intake of 400 micrograms of folate in early pregnancy may prevent the vast majority of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida and anencephaly. It may also help to prevent premature birth. To be effective, this regimen must begin before conception and continue for at least the first three months of pregnancy; if a woman waits until she knows she is pregnant, it may be too late, because critical events in fetal development occur during the first six weeks of pregnancy before many women know that they have conceived. This is why many experts recommend that every woman of childbearing age take a folate supplement daily as a matter of course. Folate works best when combined with vitamin B12 and vitamin C.

Recommended Dosage of Vitamin B9

The minimum Recommended Dosage Allowance of Vitamin B9

  • Men - 200 mcg.
  • Women - 180 mcg.
  • Women of childbearing age - 400 mcg.

Special Intake of Vitamin B9

While a daily dose of 200 mcg. of vitamin B9 is recommended, the following individuals have increased needs for vitamin B9 :-

  • Individuals who drink alcohol daily or who take oral contraceptives have increased needs for vitamin B9. Due to the risk of infant birth defects associated with low levels of folic acid, it is recommended that all women of childbearing age get 400 mcg of folic acid daily to ensure that any unplanned pregnancy produces a healthy infant.

Deficiency Symptoms of Vitamin B9

A sore, red tongue is one sign of Vitamin B9 deficiency. Other possible signs include anemia, apathy, digestive disturbances, fatigue, graying hair, growth impairment, insomnia, labored breathing, memory problems, paranoia, weakness, and birth defects in one's offspring. Vitamin B9 deficiency may be caused by inadequate consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables; consumption of only cooked or micro waved vegetables (cooking destroys folate); and malabsorption problems.

Rich Food Sources of Vitamin B9

The following foods contain significant quantities of folate: asparagus, barley, beef, bran, brewer's yeast, brown rice, cheese, chicken, dates, green leafy vegetables, lamb, legumes, lentils, liver, milk, mushrooms, oranges, split peas, pork, root vegetables, salmon, tuna, wheat germ, whole grains, and whole wheat.

Some more information on Vitamin B9

Oral contraceptives may increase the need for Vitamin B9. Alcohol also can act as an enemy to Vitamin B9 absorption.

Cautions

Do not take high doses of Vitamin B9 for extended periods if you have a hormone-related cancer or seizure disorder. A toxic level of folic acid has not been established, but daily doses above 400 mcg can mask symptoms of pernicious anemia and counteract anti epileptic drugs.



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