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This Is Why Folic Acid Is Crucial
Folic acid is a B vitamin, Vitamin B9, and it plays an important role in the development of human bodies. Folic acid is one of the ingredients in the synthesis of nucleic acid, which itself is one of the pieces that all genetic material is comprised of. Vitamin B9 also works to help create red blood cells, to preserve the brain health of infants and to help with hearing loss, among other of its works.
Although we hear of folic acid being a necessary vitamin for women that are pregnant or wanting to become pregnant, many people don’t fully understand the uses of folic acid and what it benefits our bodies with. In fact, folic acid is essential for more than just women that are pregnant. Read on below to find out who should be taking folic acid, what it can help with, and what sources of folic acid there are available.
What does Folic Acid Help With?
Humans need folic acid in every single one of their cells to help in the creation and repair of DNA and RNA. Folic acid actually a component of three other chemicals, glutamic acid, para-aminobenzoic acid, and a pteridine ring. These three compounds can be used by plants and bacteria to produce folic acid, but humans must get the folic acid in its complete form to be able to use it in our bodies. The folic acid humans consume from food is an inert form that must be activated by our liver, but we can get this activated form already from supplements.
In our cells, folic acid is especially necessary during periods of rapid growth such as during pregnancy, infancy and for teenagers. To make DNA, folic acid must interact with an amino acid called serine, an amino acid that is especially abundant in eggs, soy products, cheese, milk, mollusks, nuts and seeds and gelatin products. This is one reason that some people that follow a strict plant-based diet have problems or seem to be folic acid deficient – without the presence of serine, folic acid cannot interact in the body to help create DNA or repair it.
Folic acid can also help with the creation of red blood cells. To do this, the body is also in need of Vitamin B12 as that is what converts the folic acid into a useable form once it is inside a cell for it to be used in the creation of red blood cells. A deficiency in either folic acid or Vitamin B12 leads to megaloblastic anemia. This is when the bones can’t make red blood cells because there isn’t enough Vitamin B12 to convert the folic acid into a useable form for the cells.
Folic acid also seems to play a role in enhancing brain health, but the research has been limited so far and with mixed results. Another role of folic acid is to help prevent age-related hearing loss and it seems that in this case, again, Vitamin B12 is also needed to be present in proper quantities for the folic acid to be used. Folic acid deficiencies have also been linked to autism disorders, cleft lip, and rheumatoid arthritis.
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