The Vitamin B complex group of vitamins contains many different necessary nutrients. Folic acid is one of these vitamins. It goes by several other names including folate and folacin. This nutrient is extremely beneficial because it helps the body in several ways.
Folic acid is important for people of all different age groups, but pregnant women, women of childbearing age, and middle aged women are encouraged to increase their intake of this nutrient. Even though it is recommended to be included in their daily meals, women are often deficient in folic acid, and the consequences can be severe to their health and well-being.
Folic Acid Is an Important Growth and Development Nutrient
Several studies have shown that your body needs folic acid as early as the womb. This is why pregnant women are expected to eat lots of foods that contain the essential nutrient. It is even recommended that women who are not pregnant, but would like to start a family, begin their consumption of folic acid. Many experts believe it is a priority, because development starts when a baby is conceived. This nutrient is also crucial to include in a woman’s diet because it can help prevent major spinal birth defects, and brain defects in babies.
One of the more common birth defects that result from a deficiency in folic acid is spinal bifida. This is why any woman that is considering becoming pregnant should eat enough folic acid daily because most of these defects occur within the first few weeks after conception. Many times a woman does not even know that she is pregnant when these defects happen.
Folic Acid Helps the Body in Other Ways
Folic acid is not only a preventative nutrient; you need it for several body functions as you get older. It plays an instrumental role in the development of red blood cells. Your body has to maintain a constant supply of red blood cells so it can continue to transport oxygen throughout your body. There have also been studies that have shown that folic acid may be one of the keys to protect people from Alzheimer’s, certain cancers, heart disease, and stroke.
The Danger of a Folic Acid Deficiency
You may not know that you are deficient in this nutrient because your symptoms may introduce themselves slowly, and they can also be confused with other diseases and illnesses. Some of the symptoms that you should be on the lookout for are:
- Peptic ulcers
- Ulcers in the mouth
- Chronic diarrhea
- Tongue inflammation
Supplements Can Help
Folic acid is considered a water soluble nutrient. This means that it can be absorbed easily by the body, but it can also leave the body easily. Most of the time, folic acid leaves the body through the urine. Because it can leave the body at a rapid rate, it is usually recommended that a person should take a folic acid supplement in addition to ingesting it through their diet. This will ensure that you are receiving the daily level that your body needs in order to function properly.