Folic acid is a water-soluble B vitamins and plays an important role in bodily functions in both children and adults. It is necessary for vital chemical reactions that stimulate the formation of new cells in tissues and organs of the body and the formation of new red blood cells by the bone marrow. Folic acid is crucial for the health of the nervous system and the metabolism of proteins that take food. The human body can not produce folic acid, so you have to take in adequate amounts from food.
Food sources of folate
It is important to make sure that we take enough folic acid regardless of our age. This is especially important for pregnant and breastfeeding women, as a shortage of this vitamin may negatively affect both mother and baby. To make sure that you are obtaining enough folic acid is recommended to regularly consume the following products:
• Green leafy vegetables. It is better to include in your diet spinach, cabbage, broccoli and lettuce. Peas and beans are also a good source of folic acid.
• Orange juice. Fresh oranges and orange juice are also good choices. A glass of orange juice can provide us with 60 to 100 mcg of folic acid. Other sources rich in fruits are melons.
• Fortified breakfast cereals and bread. Most commercially produced breads and cereals contain added folic acid. Portionwise they can provide us from 100 to 400 mcg. To make sure that you buy the right products, we should carefully read the label.
• Pasta. Many types of pasta are fortified with folic acid. Just half a cup of Italian dish can provide us with 90 mcg of important substances.
• Legumes, seeds and nuts. Legumes are a rich source of folic acid 180 mcg per cup. Most nuts and seeds are also a good alternative, including peanut butter.
Folic acid deficiency is a serious health problem that is quite common, especially pregnant and nursing mothers and the elderly. Other reasons for the shortage of this substance are taking certain medications, alcohol abuse and disease, which have violated the absorptive functions of the body – such as Crohn’s disease and caeliac disease. Symptoms of folate deficiency is expressed in fatigue, irritability, slow stream of thought, gingivitis (inflammation and bleeding of the gums), diarrhea and inflammation of the tongue. In children, this condition can lead to stunting. These symptoms may show that there are serious complications caused by folate deficiency. Folic acid is required for the production of red blood cells. When the levels of this substance are low, we have a shortage of red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body. Symptoms of anemia include pale skin, fatigue, inflammation of the mouth and tongue, headache and poor concentration. Treatment may consist in supplementation with folic acid, dietary changes and / or blood transfusion of red blood cells. For women who intend to become pregnant and those in the first trimustar of pregnancy is important to get enough folic acid in food or as a dietary supplement. Folic acid deficiency can cause neural pathways defects of the fetus, the most serious of which damage the nervous system and spinal cord, anencephaly, in which there is deformation of the brain and the skull or even missing parts. Low levels of folic acid during pregnancy can cause premature birth or dangerous low birth weight baby.
Recommended daily intake of folic acid
• Adults and children over the age of 14 should take a daily 400 mcg of folic acid.
• Babies and young children aged 1 to 3 years need 150 mcg per day.
• For children between 4 and 13 years required dose is 200 mcg.
• Women who plan to become pregnant should try to adopt 400 and during pregnancy – 600 mcg of folic acid intake.
• For breastfeeding mothers recommended daily dose is 500 mcg.