Vitamin B9

Vitamin B9 is water soluble vitamin. Its synthetic form folic acid (FA) used in fortification and supplements, are critical to human health due to their role in one-carbon transfer reactions required for biological methylation and nucleotide biosynthesis.

Folate is the natural form of vitamin B9. The name folate comes from folium, which is the Latin word for leaves, because folates were first isolated from spinach. Folate is critical to human health as it mediates one carbon transfer reactions important to processes such as nucleotide biosynthesis, the methionine cycle and biological methylation.

Folate is added to foods and sold as a supplement in the form of folic acid; this form is actually better absorbed than that from food sources.

Vitamin B9 is important as it helps the body as a coenzyme to
• utilize amino acids, the building blocks of proteins
• playing an essential role in deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) synthesis,
• maintenance of DNA integrity and DNA repair
• form blood cells in the bone marrow and for healthy cell growth and function
• ensure rapid cell growth in infancy, adolescence, and pregnancy
• control (together with vitamin B6 and vitamin B12) blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine, associated with certain chronic conditions such as heart disease.

The chemical formula of folic acid is C19H19N7O6. The core of the molecule consists of heterocyclic pterin structure, with a methyl group in the sixth position bound to para-aminobenzoic and glutamic acids so that folic acid presents pteroylglutamic acid.

Folate deficiency can result from inadequate intake, defective absorption, abnormal metabolism or increased requirements. This type of deficiency is no longer a problem in many countries that fortify foods such as cereal and pasta with folic acid.

Early symptoms of folate deficiency are non-specific and may include tiredness, irritability and loss of appetite. Severe folate deficiency leads to megaloblastic anemia, a condition in which the bone marrow produces oversized immature red blood cells.

Folate is found mainly in dark green leafy vegetables, beans, peas and nuts. Fruits rich in folate include oranges, lemons, bananas, melons and strawberries. Men and women ages 19 years and older should aim for 400 mcg DFE. Pregnant and lactating women require 600 mcg DFE and 500 mcg DFE, respectively.
Vitamin B9

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