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Folic Acid

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When the March of Dimes informs about prenatal care and warns of defects, one of the vitamins and minerals it emphasizes is folic acid. Folic acid is, in fact, a B vitamin. It is also known as folate. Folic acid is one of the most necessary vitamins for the early development of a fetus.

One of the vital functions of folic acid is the creation of new cells. In most people, it is the formation of red blood cells that is most helped by folic acid. This makes it valuable for people in general, but it is absolutely necessary to aid in the development of a fetus, which is, by definition, the creation of new cells.

A woman who does not get enough folic acid runs the risk of neural tube defects in an unborn child should she become pregnant. Neural tube defects are major problems with the brain and spine of a developing fetus. The proper intake of vitamins and minerals during pregnancy, especially of folic acid, can encourage the development of a healthy baby.

It is important for a woman who might become pregnant to be taking folic acid. By the time a woman knows she's pregnant, it may already be too late to begin taking folic acid to prevent neural tube defects. The recommended daily allowance of folic acid for women who might become pregnant is 400 micrograms.

A deficiency of the vitamin folic acid manifests itself by anemia, a red tongue without the papillae (the bumps on the tongue), trouble with bowel movements (diarrhea, constipation) a susceptibility to infections, confusion and weakness. Those who are dangerously low in their amount of folic acid exhibit diarrhea and sleep trouble. These symptoms are troublesome, because they are often linked to other ailments, and so a deficiency of folic acid can be overlooked.

There are plenty of ways to get the needed amount of folic acid. Like many other vitamins and minerals, folic acid is available in supplement tablets. It can also be taken in a multivitamin pill. There are also multivitamins made especially for women who are pregnant, or planning to become pregnant, that have higher levels of folic acid than can be found in regular multivitamins.

Diet is another way to receive the proper amount of folic acid. Legumes, such as peanuts, are good sources of folic acid. Additionally, folic acid can be founded in leafy green vegetables, like romaine lettuce and spinach, and beans. Ways to help these foods retain their nutritional value include serving them raw, or steaming them in a very small amount of water. Storage in the refrigerator can also preserve the vitamin and mineral content of vegetables. Liver is another good source of folic acid. Many cold breakfast cereals are enriched with folic acid, along with other vitamins and minerals.

Folic acid isn't a very well known nutrient, but it is among the most important vitamins and minerals, especially for women who are, or plan to become, pregnant.

vitamins And Minerals > > Folic Acid