Also known as folacin, folic acid, or pteroyglutamic acid
folate is considered a brain food, and is needed for energy
production and the formation of red blood cells. It also
strengthens immunity by aiding in the proper formation and
functioning of white blood cells. Because it functions as
a coenzyme in DNA and RNA synthesis, it is important for healthy
cell division and replication. It is involved in protein
metabolism and has been used in the prevention and treatment of
folic acid anemia. This nutrient may also help depression
and anxiety, and may be effective in the treatment of uterine
Folate may be the most
important nutrient in regulating homocysteine levels.
Homocysteine is an amino acid that is naturally formed in the
body as a result of the breakdown of another amino acid,
methionine. In recent years, high levels of homocysteine
have been found to be associated with an increased risk of
atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries due to the
accumulation of fatty plaques). Normally, homocysteine is
converted to other, non-harmful aminor acids in the body.
In order for this conversion to take place as it should, the
body needs an adequate supply of folate, as well as of vitamins
B6 and B12. Homocysteine levels in red blood cells have
been shown to have an inverse relationship to levels of these
three important B vitamins - that is, the lower the levels of
these vitamins, the higher the level of homocysteine.
Folate is very important in
pregnancy. It helps to regulate embryonic and fetal nerve
cell formation, which is vital for normal development.
Studies have shown that a daily intake of 400 micrograms of
folate in early pregnancy may prevent the vast majority of
neural tube defects, such as spina bifida and anencephaly.
It may also help to prevent premature birth. To be
effective, this regimen must begin before conception and
continue for at least the first three months of pregnancy; if a
woman waits until she knows she is pregnant, it may be too late,
because critical events in fetal development occur during the
first six weeks of pregnancy - before many women know that they
have conceived. This is why many experts recommend that
every woman of childbearing age take a folate supplement daily
as a matter of course. Folate works best when combined
with vitamin B12 and vitamin C.
Symptoms of Deficiency:
A sore, red tongue is one sign of folate deficiency. Other
possible signs include anemia, apathy, digestive disturbances,
fatigue, graying hair, growth impairment, insomnia, labored
breathing, memory problems, paranoia, weakness, and birth
defects in one's offspring. Folate deficiency may be
caused by inadequate consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables;
consumption of only cooked or microwaved vegetables (cooking
destroys folate); and malabsorption problems.
Eight (8) B's and their benefits:
B3 (Niacin, Nicotinic Acid,
for Nutritional Healing by Phyllis A. Balch, CNC and James F. Balch,