Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Natural Sources of Folic Acid

Folic acid, which is also known as folacin or folate, is a water-soluble form of Vitamin B9 and essential for cell metabolism and many other healthful factors.  Women planning a pregnancy or who are already pregnant need sufficient quantities of folic acid for the proper development of what is known as the neural tube in the growing fetus.  As the precursor of the spinal column and brain, the neural tube needs nourishment with folic acid so that the central nervous system can flourish healthfully.  Without the right amount of folic acid, infants could be prone to spinal bifida, a cleft palate, or other potential problems.  

Cell Metabolism
Folic acid is responsible for developing RNA and DNA along with the maintenance of new cells through cell metabolism. It is an important element during periods of rapid growth, such as during pregnancy and infancy.  Because of its role working with cells, folic acid helps to prevent alterations in DNA that can lead to cancer and other diseases. Additionally, it assists in the creation of normal red blood cells, which helps prevent anemia as well as helping the body maintain normal levels of the amino acid homocysteine, a factor in cognitive function.  In this regard, folic acid can reduce the potential of stroke. 

Avoiding Deficiencies
Deficiencies in folic acid can manifest in weight loss, diarrhea, headaches, fatigue, heart palpitations, and behavioral abnormalities.  It is easy to get our healthy daily ration of folic acid by eating the following foods:

·      Leafy vegetables such as spinach, collard greens, kale, turnip greens, and all lettuces
·      Other vegetables such a cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts
·      Kidney beans, black-eyed beans, lentils, peas
·      Fruits such as avocado, tomatoes, bananas, cantaloupes, and citrus
·      Brewers yeast
·      Turkey and chicken liver

Remember that the more you cook fresh foods, the greater the chance of losing nutrients as they cannot support heat.  It is best to eat your veggies raw in salads or to lightly steam them. 

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