Did you know that without vitamin B9 our existence would be impossible? This water-soluble vitamin is responsible for carrying out many biochemical processes in the body, including the production of DNA. In fact, a deficiency of this nutrient can lead to birth defects and other health problems. Fortunately, our body can provide it from certain foods. Let’s take a closer look at the important features of this vitamin.
Vitamin B9 or folic acid: what is it?
Vitamin B9, also known as folic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin. It is found in green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, and fortified foods. It plays an important role in the development of the neural tube. How it can help prevent birth defects of the brain and spine.
Folic acid is known for its role in preventing anemia and is necessary for the production of red blood cells. Vitamin B9 is important for cell growth and DNA synthesis, making it essential for tissue repair and cell division. Although our bodies only need a small amount of folic acid, it’s important to make sure we get enough through our diet or supplements.
Vitamin B9 deficiency can lead to difficulty concentrating, shortness of breath, and fatigue. In severe cases, it can lead to neurological problems and even death. Fortunately, folic acid deficiencies are relatively rare in developed countries. However, pregnant women and those trying to conceive are advised to take a daily supplement to help prevent birth defects.
What are the characteristics of vitamin B9?
It is also called “folate”, pteroylmonoglutamic acid, pteroyl-L-glutamic acid, or pteroyl-L-glutamate. In the metabolic sequence of cell formation and division, this vitamin is the precursor of tetrahydrofolate (FH4 or THF4). The latter is a coenzyme that contributes to the formation of serine, methionine, pyrimidines, nucleic bases, and especially deoxyribonucleic and ribonucleic acids.
It is true that the body cannot produce vitamin B9. Even if it is revealed that certain intestinal bacteria still manage to synthesize it, but in a rather limited amount. Vitamin B9 is absorbed in the small intestine and stored in the liver.
Recently, scientists have discovered that vitamin B9 may also play a role in preventing Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.
The usefulness of vitamin B9 according to the stages of life.
For a baby:
Vitamin B9 contributes to the formation of red blood cells and DNA, and also plays a role in the nervous system. Babies need a higher dose reaching 65 mcg due to their rapid growth. Certain foods, which we’ll define later, are the best source of vitamin B9, but many babies don’t get enough of them. That’s why many doctors recommend taking a vitamin B9 supplement.
For a boy:
Children between 13 and 36 months need a dose of up to 150 mcg per day of vitamin B9. Hence its usefulness in the development of their growth and their brain capacities.
For a teenager:
Your daily intake of vitamin B9 ranges from 200 to 300 mcg. Vitamin B9 is important for teens because it helps make red blood cells and prevents anemia. It also plays a role in cell growth. What is important in adolescence, when the body grows and develops rapidly. Additionally, vitamin B9 has been linked to a lower risk of certain birth defects. For these reasons, it’s important for teens to make sure they get enough vitamin B9 in their diet.
For an adult:
The Recommended Daily Allowance (ANC) is capped at 400 µg. Vitamin B9 plays a role in the metabolism of homocysteine, an amino acid that has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. This is the reason why adults between the ages of 18 and 60 must respect this ceiling by introducing foods rich in vitamin B9 into their diet.
People over 65 years of age are recommended to consume between 400 and 600 µg of vitamin B9 per day. As we age, the body becomes less efficient at absorbing nutrients from food. That is why it is important for older people to have regular blood tests to detect deficiencies. If you are over 65, your doctor may recommend that you take a vitamin B9 supplement.
For pregnant and lactating women:
This vitamin is important for pregnant and lactating women because it helps prevent neural tube defects in developing babies. Neural tube defects are serious birth defects of the brain and spine. Folic acid may also help prevent other birth defects of the heart, spine, and limbs. For pregnant women, it is recommended to take 400 mcg per day. This intake can be taken in the form of a supplement or by consuming foods rich in this vitamin.
Vitamin B9 is present in these foods.
Although most take vitamin B9 supplements, it’s also important to get this nutrient from food sources. Vitamin B9 is found in green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, and fortified foods. Leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale are particularly rich in vitamin B9. Black-eyed peas, lentils, and peanuts are good sources. Fortified foods, such as cereals and breads, can also be a good way to get your daily dose of vitamin B9. If you want to increase your intake of this important nutrient, add these foods to your diet.
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