Folic acid is a water-soluble B-complex vitamin that your body requires in order to produce new cells. Your body converts folic acid into tetrahydrofolic acid (THFA)‚ which is involved in the formation of DNA and aids in promoting a healthy metabolism. When combined with vitamin B-12 and vitamin C‚ folic acid also helps your body break down and use the proteins you consume.
Folic acid is contained within foods such as liver‚ green leafy vegetables‚ and fruit. A lack of those in your diet can lead to folic acid deficiency; however‚ this condition is uncommon in developed nations. If you’re deficient in folic acid‚ you may find that you suffer from anemia‚ a condition that occurs due to a lack of red cells in your blood. Your doctor can test a sample of your blood to determine whether you’re anemic.
If you’re a woman during the first 12 weeks of your pregnancy or are planning to become pregnant in the near future‚ you should take folic acid supplements even if you’re already healthy and have a balanced diet. Folic acid is essential for the healthy development of your baby. It helps your growing fetus to produce DNA‚ as well as red and white blood cells. This vitamin also promotes the proper development of your baby’s brain and spinal cord during the first trimester. In the absence of sufficient folic acid‚ your growing baby could develop brain and spinal cord defects.