Folic acid properties

Properties of vitamin B9


Folic acid, a necessary vitamin in our body

Folic acid or folates (vitamin B9) is necessary in all processes of growth and renewal of body structures. Its name derives from the word folium (= leaf), because it was isolated for the first time from the leaves of spinach.

The foods richest in folic acid are leafy vegetables. Meat, fish, eggs and dairy are poor in this component.

Spinach with folic acid

Green vegetables such as spinach have a very high content of folic acid. In contrast, meats, fish and dairy products contain very little

What is folic acid required for?

It is essential for the synthesis of the genetic material of new cells or DNA (acronyms of deoxyribonucleic acid), the element of the cell that contains and transmits the genetic characters to new cells.

Folic acid is also used to produce RNA (necessary, along with proteins, vitamin B12 and vitamin C, for the formation of proteins and other cellular processes), acting as a coenzyme.

All this leads to the need for folic acid at adequate levels for cells to divide, grow and maintain properly, something necessary for proper growth and proper maintenance of the human being.

Properties of folic acid

For all the above mentioned, folic acid will be a necessary vitamin for the production of new cells and structures, for example, for the increase of the muscular mass, the healing of the wounds, the formation of the bones or during the stages of growth in children and young people.

When should folic acid supplements be taken?

The main properties of folic acid are the following:

Folic acid to prevent anemia problems

Among the affectations most directly involved in these functions, we have:

  • The formation of red blood cells: Folic acid is necessary for the formation of the heme group, a substance of hemoglobin that contains iron and that transports oxygen through the blood. It is for this reason that high levels of folic acid are found in the bone marrow, which is where new blood cells are continually synthesized.
  • To avoid megaloblastic anemia: Folic acid deficiencies produce symptoms of fatigue due to megaloblastic anemia, a disease characterized by an abnormal increase in the size of red blood cells. This increased size is due to the inability of the cells to separate during their multiplication, due to the deficit of folate. This affectation can also occur due to a deficit of cobalamin or vitamin B12, common in vegetarians.

Folic acid for conception, pregnancy and lactation

Possibly, one of the best known properties of this vitamin is its important role throughout pregnancy. Folic acid is necessary at all stages of pregnancy, from conception, during pregnancy, and in lactation, so that the baby develops properly:

pregnancyDuring pregnancy the needs of folic acid increase. ©Dibujosparapintar

  • Female and male fertility: If a woman is thinking about becoming pregnant, it is highly recommended to increase the consumption of vegetables, which are foods rich in folic acid. During the first weeks after conception, it is when there is greater growth of the future fetus, that is, much folic acid is required for cell multiplication.

Folic acid, along with biotin and cobalamin, are necessary for a woman’s reproductive capacity and can help her get pregnant, helping to overcome some infertility problems.

* More information: Folic acid to prepare pregnancy

  • Pregnancy: If looking for a new baby, you should increase the intake of 400 to 800 mcg daily of folic acid, three months before conception and during the three months following pregnancy, can prevent malformations.
  • Adequate development of the fetus without malformations: It has been proven that the deficiency of this vitamin is responsible for the appearance of fetal malformations in the neural tube, such as spina bifida (disease characterized by having the spine unprotected as the closure of the vertebrae has not occurred) around it) or other diseases of the brain or nervous system.

Folic acid supplement during pregnancy

For these reasons, gynecologists always recommend pregnant women to eat foods with a lot of folic acid, such as broccoli, avocado, legumes and nuts, wise nutritional advice that should not be overlooked. It is also recommended a supplement of this vitamin, which is recommended to take.

Pregnant women should increase the contribution of this vitamin to avoid these complications. An adequate intake of folic acid is recommended in women during their childbearing years.

* More information: Diet rich in folic acid during pregnancy

Folic acid also during lactation

During breastfeeding, it is still important that the mother continues to consume plenty of vegetables to provide, through breast milk, all the folic acid that the baby needs to grow.

Folic acid for cardiovascular health

Eating high amounts of folic acid in the diet, such as lentils, chickpeas, cabbage, salads, avocado and nuts, is a great help to prevent complications and improve health in heart disease.

Salad with avocado

Salad with avocado. Avocado is a fruit very rich in folic acid. It is recommended to add to salads

Folic acid, along with other components of the group of vitamin B (cobalamin and pyridoxine) and antioxidants, are able to neutralize homocysteine, an amino acid whose increase has been linked to problems of poor circulation.

High levels of circulating homocysteine ​​in blood can damage the walls of blood vessels favoring the formation of atheromatous plaque, which causes narrowing of arteries and arteriosclerosis disease or poor circulation.

Folic acid is very important because it reduces the levels of homocysteine ​​and helps prevent the formation of cholesterol plaques in the arteries.

Folic acid to improve heart health

It has been proven that folic acid can counteract the negative influence of homocysteine ​​and prevent many cardiovascular diseases.

In people who have high levels of homocysteine ​​in the blood, the ingestion of 400 to 800 mcg daily, combined with the same amount of pyridoxine and cobolamine, could prevent the occurrence of many myocardial infarctions.

Summary of the main properties of folic acid or vitamin B9Summary of the main properties of folic acid or vitamin B9. Green leafy vegetables and avocados are the best sources of this vitamin.

Folic acid for cancer

Due to the role that folic acid plays in cell multiplication, this vitamin is indisputably essential for new cells to be produced correctly. This could be one of the reasons why a diet rich in vegetables (which are the most important source of folate) protects against many types of cancer.

The use of folic acid in the prevention of colon cancer is being studied, especially in men with ulcerative colitis. It seems that ingesting 1,000 mcg daily of this vitamin could improve the disease.

Likewise, quite interesting tests have been carried out on the use of this vitamin in massive doses (up to 5,000 mcg daily) in women with cervical dysplasia to eliminate the possibility of developing cervical cancer.

Other properties of folic acid

  • Skin health: The cells of the skin, hair and nails are renewed continuously. It is necessary a good contribution of folic acid in the diet so that this replacement occurs correctly and there are no premature graying or problems in the skin, hair and nails.
  • Preventing depression: It has been proven how depressed people have very low levels of folic acid. Ingesting 400 mcg daily of this vitamin along with other B vitamins can help improve mood and help treat depression.
  • Delay the progression of multiple sclerosis and premature aging: Ingestion of vitamin B complex, along with extra doses of cobalamin and folic acid, helps delay the progression of multiple sclerosis and premature aging. (The usual dose is usually 400 mcg daily folic acid) (Eat plenty of vegetables in the diet)

How to take folic acid supplements?

Folic acid supplements or supplements can be taken in the form of tablets, powder, capsules or liquid. To be able to function well this vitamin must be taken together with vitamin B12 (Cobalamin). It is necessary for therapeutic uses to always take vitamin B12 along with folic acid. (1000 mcg of vitamin B12 together with the 400 mcg).

The use of folic acid could hide need for vitamin B12, whose deficiency can cause serious disorders to the body.

Folic acid can be taken at meals or between meals. The most active form is taken by placing the tablets under the tongue.

Natural supplements of folic acid are : Wheat germ, Nutritional yeast or brewer’s yeast

Folic acid daily needs

The minimum required dose (RDA) has been set at 200 mcg for adult males and 180 for adult females. Many specialists think that this RDA is too low and recommend that it be at least 400 mcg daily.

The following table shows the needs of this vitamin in different ages and circumstances:

Recommended dose of folic acid (vitamin B9) in mcg (micrograms)
Usual dose
Less than 6 months25
From 6 months to 1 year35
From 1 to 3 years50
From 4 to 6 years75
7 to 10 years100
11 to 14 years150
Men 15 or more200
Women 15 or more180
Pregnant women400
Breastfeeding women280
Prevention or treatment of diseases
Heart diseases prevention400 to 800 mcg daily
For depression400 mcg daily
To prevent cancer400 to 800 mcg daily
Crohn’s disease400 to 800 mcg daily
For anemia800 mcg daily divided into two doses along with 1000 mcg of vitamin B12
For Alzheimer’s prevention400 mcg daily along with a complex of vitamin B and 50 mg of pyridoxine.
For women infertility400 mcg daily along with a complex of vitamin B and 50 mg of vitamin B12
For multiple sclerosis prevention400 mcg daily
For premature aging400 mcg daily

Folic acid toxicity

Can folic acid be toxic? The 1000 mcg daily dose of folic acid should not be exceeded. Higher prolonged doses may cause seizures or fits of epilepsy. Very high doses (5000 or more mcg daily) can worsen prostate or breast cancer.

It is advised to consult with the doctor before starting any treatment with folic acid supplements. This is particularly required if you are taking any other medically or if you have a disease.

* Related information:

Folic acid diet

– Recipes rich in folic acid

Folic acid characteristics

Folic acid toxicity

punto rojoMore information on vitamins.

Vitamin B1(Thiamin)Vitamin B2(Riboflavin)Vitamin B3(Niacin)
Vitamin B5(Pantothenic acid)Vitamin B6(Pyridoxine)Vitamin B7(Biotin)
Vitamin B9(Folic acid)Vitamin B12(Cobalamin)Choline
InositolPABALipoic acid


Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

28 February, 2024

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