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 metabolism of proteins taken with food. The human body can not produce folic acid, so you must take in adequate amounts from food.
Nutrition sources of Folic acid
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 can adversely 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 cereals and breads contain added folic acid. On the portion they can provide us from 100 to 400 mcg. To make sure that you buy the right products, we should carefully read the content of labels.
Many types of pasta are fortified with folic acid. Just half a cup of Italian dish can provide us with up to 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
Folic acid deficiency is a serious health problem that is quite common, especially in pregnant women and nursing mothers and the elderly. Other reasons for the shortage of this substance are taking certain medications, alcohol abuse and illnesses which have violated the absorbent body functions – such as Crohn’s disease and caeliac disease. Symptoms of deficiency of folic acid 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, some of which are:
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 to 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 transfusions of red blood cells.
• Birth defects
For women who intend to become pregnant and those in the first trimustar of pregnancy it is important to get enough folic acid in food or as a dietary supplement. A deficiency of folic acid can cause defects in the neural pathways of the fetus, the most serious of which damage the nervous system and spinal cord, anencephaly, where there is deformity 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.
• Infants 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 nursing mothers recommended daily dose is 500 mcg.
If we can not obtaining all necessary amount of this substance through food it is good to begin to take supplements of folic acid.
Side effects from folic acid
The toxicity of folic acid is rare because kidneys cleanse excess urine. If you take vitamin C may notice that our urine has become orange in color. This is a normal reaction of the body in his attempt to get rid of excess folic acid and does not cause problems. If the body is not able to effectively cleans excess, it may lead to poisoning with folic acid. Symptoms include indigestion, inflammation of the mouth, skin irritation, nausea, bloating, cramps, diarrhea, hair loss, mental problems, insomnia or vivid dreams too. Poisoning with folic acid is a very serious problem that requires prompt medical attention. Taking folic acid intake is important during all stages of our lives. Its shortage can lead to some serious disease processes that can be fatal if not treated immediately. Folic acid binds to the prevention of certain cancers, and lowering risk of heart disease. If you experience any of the above symptoms of deficiency should consult a doctor and eventually begin to take supplements. Early intervention will result in a favorable outcome of the situation.