VITAMIN B9 (FOLIC ACID) – Prevents Anemia
Folic acid or Vitamin B9 is sparingly soluble in water and stable in acid solution. Food processing, sulphur drugs and sunlight can destroy this vitamin. Jejunum of the intestine is the primary site for the absorption of folic acid, but it is absorbed along the entire length of the small intestine. About half of the folic acid stored in the body is in the liver.
Functions in the Body
Folic acid helps in the building of antibodies, which prevent and heal infections.
It contributes to normal growth by aiding protein metabolism. It prevents premature graying of the hair and is essential for the health of hair and skin. Along with Vitamin B12 it is essential for the formation, maturation and multiplication of R.B.C. It also produces nucleic acids that carry hereditary patterns and is necessary for the growth and division of all body cells.
For a pregnant women and her developing foetus, folic acid is the single-most important nutrient and it ensures healthy pregnancy. Lactation is also improved by it.
Valuable sources of Folic acid are green vegetables such as amaranth, cluster beans, mint and spinach. It is also found in gingelly seeds and meat. Folic acid is also rich in pulses and legumes such as Chickpea and green gram.
(RDA, Men – 100mcg, Women – 100mcg, Pregnant women – 400mcg, Lactating women – 150mcg, Children – 150mcg, Infants – 25mcg)
Folic acid metabolism maybe hindered by the usage of alcohol, drugs such as co-trimoxazole, (sulphur compound), anti-malarial and anticonvulsant (used to treat epilepsy).
Pregnant women and children are often anemic due to the deficiency of Folic acid. It can also cause high infant mortality rate and mental retardation; difficult labor and spontaneous abortions in women and loss of libido in males. The other disorders are tiredness, improper circulation, serious skin disorders, mental depression and grayish brown pigmentation.
Healing and Therapeutic Properties
A few rare cases of mental retardation are treated well by using large doses of Folic acid.
1. Megaloblastic Anemia – During pregnancy small daily dose of this vitamin is advised as it prevents certain birth defects. It also helps in treating nutritional megaloblastic anemia during pregnancy and infancy.
2. Brown spots on the skin – Pregnant women and women using contraceptive pills develop darkish brown pigmentation on the face, inner mouth, on the palms, under the armpits and over the thighs. This occurs due to deficiency of folic acid and can be treated with administration of folic acid along with Vitamin B12.
3. Gout – Dietary therapy is used to treat most cases of gout, but using folic acid additionally supports the treatment.
4. Mental Retardation – Children who suffer from epilepsy and mentally deranged persons are treated with folic acid regularly to improve the quality of their life and mental functions.
5. Recurrent Abortion – From the beginning of pregnancy till its completion folic acid accompanied by Iron and Vitamin B12 has been found very beneficial in preventing abortions.
6. Sprue – Deficiency of folic acid can also cause sprue which is an intestinal disease characterized by anemia, severe diarrhea, sore mouth and tongue and large amounts of fats in the stools. This can be treated by administered doses of injections daily.
When megaloblastic anemia is treated with folic acid there maybe an increase in epilepsy and while treating gout it may hide Vitamin B12 deficiency.