Why Is Folic Acid An Important Vitamin For The Human Body?


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Kath Senior answered
Folic acid is one of the B vitamin family; it is water soluble and occurs in a wide range of foods. The vitamin is important because if it is deficient in pregnant women, they can develop a type of anaemia. This was discovered in the 1930s by a researcher called Lucy Wills. Since then studies have shown that taking adequate amounts of folic acid in the diet when pregnant can prevent some cases of neural tube defects in the children they give birth to..

The vitamin is water soluble, which means that it is easily excreted and lost in the urine, so it needs to be taken in the diet every day to keep levels high. Folic acid supplements are available for pregnant women and some foods are fortified with the vitamin, particularly breakfast cereals.

Folic acid is important because it helps in the process by which new cells are made and maintained. It is therefore needed in greater amounts when rapid cell division and growth is taking place – such as during pregnancy and during infancy and early childhood. Some of the foods richest in folic acid are green leafy vegetables – unfortunately not the favourite of many small children, so it is a good idea for them to eat some fortified foods.

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