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Folic Acid

Folic acid or folate is a B complex vitamin needed by the body to manufacture red blood cells. B complex vitamins are essential to properly metabolise fats and proteins and play an important role in maintaining muscles and the health of the digestive tract. B complex vitamins promote the health of the nervous system, skin, hair, and other body tissues. Folic acid aids in the production of DNA and RNA, the body's genetic material and is especially important during periods of high growth, such as infancy, adolescence and pregnancy. It works closely with vitamin B12 to regulate the formation of red blood cells and the function of iron in the body. A deficiency of this vitamin causes certain types of anaemia (low red blood cell count).

Individuals suffering from alcoholism, irritable bowel syndrome, and coeliac disease are prone to suffer from folic acid deficiency, which in turn can lead to a number of health problems.

Pregnant woman are at especially high risk of folic acid deficiency as the unborn foetus can deplete a mother's nutrient reserves quickly. Folic acid deficiency during pregnancy can lead to a number of health problems and neural-tube birth defects in babies.

Dosage and Administration

Plant foods containing high amount of folic acid include spinach, dark leafy greens, asparagus, turnip, beet and mustard greens, brussel sprouts, lima beans, soybeans, beef liver, brewer's yeast, root vegetables, whole grains, wheat germ, bulgur wheat, kidney beans, white beans, mung beans oysters, salmon, orange juice, avocado and milk.

Daily recommendations for folic acid:

* Infants under 6 months: 65 mcg (adequate intake)
* Infants 7 to 12 months: 80 mcg (adequate intake)
* Children 1 to 3 years: 150 mcg (RDA)
* Children 4 to 8 years: 200 mcg (RDA)
* Children 9 to 13 years: 300 mcg (RDA)
* Adolescents 14 to 18 years: 400 mcg (RDA)
* 19 years and older: 400 mcg (RDA)
* Pregnant women: 600 mcg (RDA)
* Breastfeeding women: 500 mcg (RDA)

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