Vitamin B9 Folic Acid – What is it?

Folic acid is a water-soluble form of the vitamin B9. Folic acid is sometimes listed on labels as folate, vitamin M, and vitamin B9. Our bodies need folic acid for rapid cell division and growth.

It also is a component needed in many different functions in the body such as replication and repair of new cells. It is especially important in times of rapid growth such as in pregnancy and infancy.

As humans, we cannot synthesize folic acid and therefore we must get it from diet or by taking vitamin supplements and minerals. A folic acid deficiency is uncommon in most Western cultures and can take months to develop symptoms.

Some of the symptoms of a folic acid deficiency are; diarrhea, anemia, shortness of breath, confusion or forgetfulness, mental depression, sore or swollen tongue, mouth ulcers, headaches, and heart palpitations.

folic acid vitamin supplement

folic acid vitamin supplement

Where can I Get It?
Folic acid can be found in many different foods that are common in most diets like leafy green vegetables such as, spinach, broccoli, and some lettuce. Folic acid is also found in meats, fruits, and fruit juices. It can also be found in wheat flours and breads. Folic acid go hand in hand with this vitamin that is made by bacteria known as vitamin b12.

In 2009, the Food Standards Australia New Zealand required that Australian millers fortify wheat flours with folic acid. Most western countries have breads, cereals, and flours that are fortified with folic acid. These products account for a significant source of their populations folic acid intake.

Recommended Doses and Uses
The recommended daily dose of folic acid is 400 micrograms. Folic acid is an essential component in rapid cell division in the body. It is used mainly in pregnant women in order to prevent birth defects. As it aids in supporting rapid cell division and supports DNA replication. It helps with the prevention of birth defects such as spina bifida and heart defects.

While more studies are needed to show significant benefits, folic acid has been indicated to have benefits for many conditions. It has shown some benefits in patients that are taking medications for depression.

It has been indicated to help ease the side effects in patients taking Methotrexate for Rheumatoid arthritis and cancer treatments. It has been shown to help prevent memory loss in patients with Alzheimer’s.

It has been shown to have some affect in the prevention of colon cancer and cervical cancers as it aids in healthy cell division and growth. Folic acid is indicated to have interactions with medications used for migraines and seizures.

There is little evidence that taking more than the recommended dose has any additional benefits. Folic acid is water soluble so any amount not absorbed by the body will pass in the urine. However, high doses of folic acid may cause increased side effects such as, nausea, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, skin rash, confusion, and seizures.

This article is for information purposes only. Contact your physician before adding folic acid to your current medications.


More Resources and Information on Folic Acid

Folic acid – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

FOLIC ACID: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions and Warnings –

Folic acid fortification – Food Standards Australia New Zealand –



The information written here is not meant as medical advice. Please talk to your doctor or other qualified health professional prior to following what is written on the article or taking herbal supplements of any kind.