What it does in the body
Folic Acid is a form of the water-soluble vitamin B91 and is critical for cellular division, being required in DNA synthesis. Folic acid also aids in protein metabolism and contributes to normal growth. In pregnant women, folic acid is essential for the development of the nervous system in the fetus. Lack of sufficient levels of folic acid have been linked to birth defects including spina bifida.
- Natural sources of folic acid are deep green leafy vegetables, liver, kidney and yeast. Other good sources include legumes, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, oranges, root vegetables and whole grains. Animal foods are poor sources, while plants are much richer.2 No wonder: the name is related to “Foliage.”
Recommended Dietary Allowance
- The RDA for folic acid varies from 200-1000 micrograms depending on certain factors. In particular, women of childbearing age or pregnant women should consume a daily amount of folic acid that falls in the higher end of this range, while younger women can consume a daily amount that lies on the lower side of the scale.3
Orthomolecular Dosage Range: Somewhat higher than the RDA.
- Orthomolecular physicians sometimes prescribe much more, depending on need.
“Many surveys have shown folate deficiency is common in pregnant women, who need 600 mcg per day to help prevent neural tube defects in their babies. (They also need all the other vitamins.) A need for extra folate is indicated in old age, in malabsorption syndromes, with excessive alcohol consumption, with use of anticonvulsants or contraceptive pills, in pernicious anemia, and in many psychoses, especially schizophrenia. Folate appears to be important in preventing stroke and cancer.”4
1 Herbert V. (1999). Folic Acid. Shils M, Olson J, Shike M, Ross AC, (Eds.). Nutrition in Health and Disease. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins.
2 Herbert V. (1999). Folic Acid. Shils M, Olson J, Shike M, Ross AC, (Eds.). Nutrition in Health and Disease. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins.
4 (From: Hoffer A and Saul AW. Orthomolecular Medicine for Everyone, Basic Health Publications, 2008.) Wang, X., X. Qin, H. Demirtas, et al. “Efficacy of Folic Acid Supplementation in Stroke Prevention: A Meta-analysis.” Lancet 369:9576 (June 2007): 1876–1882. Freudenheim, J.L., S. Graham, J.R. Marshall, et al. “Folate Intake and Carcinogenesis of the Colon and Rectum.” Intl J Epidemiol 20:2 (June 1991): 368–374. Also: Jennings, E. “Folic Acid as a Cancer-preventing Agent.” Med Hypotheses 45:3 (September 1995): 297–303.