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 Vitamins: Folic Acid 
 

Remember, folic acid is available from fresh, unprocessed food, which is why it is so commonly deficient in our culture’s processed-food diet. Luckily, though, it is easily absorbed, used, and stored by our body. It is also manufactured by our intestinal bacteria, so if colon flora is healthy, we have another good source of folic acid.

Functions: Folic acid, or more specifically, its coenzyme tetrahydrofolic acid (THFA), has functions very similar to those of cobalamin, vitamin B12. Folic acid aids in red blood cell production by carrying the carbon molecule to the larger heme molecule, which is the iron-containing part of hemoglobin (the oxygen-carrying molecule of the red blood cells).

With B12 and vitamin C, THFA helps in the breakdown and utilization of protein. With B12, it assists in many amino acid conversions, such as the methylation of methionine, serine, histidine, and even the B vitamin choline. Folic acid is also used in the formation of the nucleic acids for RNA and DNA. Actually, the anemia that results from folic acid deficiency comes from the lack of THFA and decreased synthesis of the purines and pyrimidines that make up the DNA. So folic acid has a fundamental role in the growth and reproduction of all cells.

Since folic acid is important to the division of cells in the body, it is even more essential during times of growth, such as pregnancy. Pregnancy is a time of rapid cell multiplication. If there is a deficiency of folic acid, there is decreased nucleic acid synthesis, and cell division is hampered. This deficiency can lead to low birth weight or growth problems in infants.

Uses: Folic acid is, of course, used to restore its deficiencies and treat the problems resulting from them. People who are very stressed or fatigued or who have any loss of adrenal gland function may benefit from additional folic acid. Those who drink alcohol or take high amounts of vitamin C also require more of this vitamin. Also, epileptics on drug therapy require more folic acid, which may help them by improving mood and mental capacities. In patients with psoriasis, folate is used rapidly by the skin, thus is needed in increased amounts. Teenagers on poor diets with no vegetables and the elderly often are helped by folic acid supplementation.


POSSIBLE CLINICAL USES OF FOLIC ACID

Seborrheic dermatitisElderly
PregnancySkin ulcers
Restless leg syndromeLactation
DepressionDiarrhea
AlcoholismPoor appetite
Cervical dysplasiaFatigue
Cervical cancerAnemia
NeuropathyCanker sores
Birth control pillsGout
AtherosclerosisViral hepatitis
Immune weaknessAcne
DementiaInfection
Organic brain syndromeGingivitis
Periodontal problemsOsteoporosis
Estrogen supplementation


(Excerpted from Staying Healthy with Nutrition ISBN: 1587611791)
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 About The Author
Elson Haas MDElson M. Haas, MD is founder & Director of the Preventive Medical Center of Marin (since 1984), an Integrated Health Care Facility in San Rafael, CA and author of many books on Health and Nutrition, including ...more
 
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