Folic acid is a B vitamin that is naturally present in many foods such as legumes, green leafy vegetables, eggs, bananas, citrus fruits, and liver, and the body needs folate to make DNA and other types of genetic material, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH).
However, because folate is not stored in the body in large amounts, your blood level will drop after just a few weeks of eating a low-folate diet.
Therefore, according to Medline Plus, the United States National Library of Medicine, the causes of folate deficiency are:
- Diseases in which folic acid is not well absorbed in the digestive system (such as celiac disease or Crohn’s disease).
- Excessive alcohol consumption.
- Consumption of overcooked fruits and vegetables. Folate can be easily destroyed by heat.
- Hemolytic anemia.
- Certain medications (such as phenytoin, sulfasalazine, or trimethoprim with sulfamethoxazole).
- Eating an unhealthy diet that does not include enough fruits and vegetables.
- kidney dialysis
In addition, he explained that folic acid deficiency can cause:
- Fatigue, irritability, or diarrhea.
- Insufficient growth.
- Smooth and sensitive tongue.
Additionally, insufficient folate intake can cause concentration problems, irritability, headache, palpitations, and shortness of breath. Folate deficiency can also cause open sores on the tongue and inside the mouth, as well as changes in the color of the skin, hair, or nails.
Similarly, women who don’t get enough folate are at risk of having babies with neural tube defects, such as spina bifida. Folate deficiency can also increase the chance of having a premature or low birth weight baby.
Therefore, to avoid folate deficiency, it should be taken into account that the amount of folate needed depends on age and the recommended average daily amounts, expressed in micrograms (mcg) of dietary folate equivalents (DFE). English), are the following:
- Birth to 6 months of age: 65 mcg DFE
- Infants 7 to 12 months of age: 80 mcg DFE
- Children 1 to 3 years of age: 150 mcg DFE
- Children 4 to 8 years of age: 200 mcg DFE
- Children 9 to 13 years of age: 300 mcg DFE
- Adolescents 14 to 18 years of age: 400 mcg DFE
- Adults over 19 years of age: 400 mcg DFE
- Pregnant women and adolescents: 600 mcg DFE
- Breastfeeding women and adolescents: 500 mcg DFE
“The mcg DFE measurement is used because the body absorbs more folic acid from fortified foods and dietary supplements than from folate found naturally in food,” explained the Institute.
What types of folic acid dietary supplements are there?
Folate is present in multivitamin supplements and prenatal vitamins.
Additionally, it is available in B-complex dietary supplements and folate-only supplements.
In dietary supplements, folate is usually found in the form of folic acid, but methylfolate (5-methyl-THF) is also used.
Also, dietary supplements containing methylfolate may be better than folic acid for people who have a certain mutation in a gene called MTHFR because your body can use this form more easily.
However, as with any food that you want to include in your daily diet, it is important to consult the treating doctor or a nutritionist about the best way to consume, and if the existing medical conditions are not an impediment to benefit from all the properties of the food already named.