Definition-What is folic acid?
Folic acid or also called folate belongs to the vitamins. More precisely, it is the vitamin B9. It takes part in various processes in the body and is sometimes an important component for cell division, blood formation and the maturing of the child in the womb. Through a healthy and balanced diet, the body is usually supplied with sufficient vitamin B9. In special situations, such as pregnancy, a higher dose of folic acid may be necessary, which can then be compensated for by taking vitamin B9 tablets, for example.
Standard values in the blood of an adult are folic acid concentrations of >2.5 ng/ml. A deficiency of folic acid manifests itself in anemia and is characterized by values of < 2.0 ng/ml. Anemia in the case of folic acid deficiency is characterized by a too low number of red blood cells as well as a change in the appearance of the blood cells, also called erythrocytes.
Folic acid is taken in with food. The daily folic acid requirement for adults is about 300 micrograms. During pregnancy and lactation the requirement is increased. A too low concentration of folic acid in the blood can usually be compensated by the administration of folic acid tablets.
Function of folic acid in the human body
By eating green vegetables such as beans, avocado, asparagus and spinach, humans can absorb folic acid. This is then metabolized in the body and only then reaches its active form. Due to its modification, folic acid or tetrahydrofolate is then able to participate in various processes in the body.
It is particularly important in the formation of red blood cells, the so-called erythrocytes. Folic acid also plays an important role in the development of the child in the womb. More precisely, in the development of the so-called neural tube.
This is a precursor structure of the brain and spinal cord. It closes again after only a few weeks of pregnancy. Folic acid has an important function here – a deficiency of folic acid often leads to a faulty closure or even a lack of closure. As a result, an open back of the so-called spina bifida or a malformation of the fetal brain can occur. An adequate supply of folic acid to the body is therefore extremely important, especially in early pregnancy, as it can greatly reduce the risk of neural tube defects.