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The Hunger Project Bolen Report
Ohm Society
Folate (Folic Acid, Vitamin B6) Print E-mail
by Ron Kennedy, M.D., Santa Rosa, CA

Dr. Kennedy Folic Acid is a coenzyme needed for forming protein and hemoglobin. It is available from leafy green vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains and brewers' yeast. It is lost in cooking and when stored at room temperature. Your best source is a fresh green garden salad. Unlike the other water soluble vitamins, Folic Acid can be stored in the liver, so you do not need to eat it every day. An abundance of Folic Acid can improve lactation, act as an analgesic for pain, promote healthy, youthful skin and increase appetite in cases of debilitation. Folic acid taken during pregnancy is known to prevent neural tube defects and should be taken as a supplement (not relying on food sources) for full protection. It is a key factor in the synthesis of the nucleic acids (DNA and RNA). A deficiency of folic acid after birth causes an anemia, namely, megaloblastic anemia in which there is a paucity of red blood cells and those that are made are unusually large and immature (so-called blast cells). Lack of adequate folic acid during pregnancy is known to increase the risk for the baby to have a birth defect involving the spinal cord and brain -- a neural tube defect such as spina bifida (meningomyelocele) or anencephaly. Folic acid antagonists (certain drugs) increase the risk not only of neural tube defects but also of congenital heart malformations, cleft lip and palate, and urinary tract defects. Supplementation with folic acid reduces the risks for a remarkably broad gamut of birth defects. In order for folic acid to be effective in preventing these birth defects, the vitamin must be consumed every day beginning before conception and continuing through the first three months of pregnancy. Educating women and their doctors about the importance of folic acid is a major effort. According to one study, only 10% of women know that folic acid should be taken before pregnancy. The active form is known as folinic acid.

The information in this article is not meant to be medical advice.�Treatment for a medical condition should come at the recommendation of your personal physician.

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