Folic Acid Information

Folic acid is a B complex vitamin, also called folic acid or folate, needed by the body to manufacture red blood cells. B complex vitamins are essential to properly metabolize fats and proteins and play an important role in maintaining muscles as well as the health of the digestive tract. B complex vitamins also 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. Folic acid also works closely together with vitamin B12 to regulate the formation of red blood cells and to help iron function properly in the body. A deficiency of this vitamin causes certain types of anemia (low red blood cell count) among other things.

Certain plants are the richest source of folic acid. Unfortunately, many Americans do not ingest enough of these plant items in their diets to get the proper amounts of folic acid, which can lead to folic acid deficiency. Individuals suffering from alcoholism, irritable bowel syndrome, and celiac 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 fetus 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, lima 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)