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Folic acid (vitamin B9): foods & benefits

( 11 June 2015 )

Folic acid (Vitamin B9) is used for growth & development in the human body. It is often found in green vegetables and fortified foods like cereal and bread.

Folic acid rich spinach on a wooden board
Fortified breakfast cereals and some green vegetables contain vitamin B9

RDA is 200 to 400 micrograms.

It is easily destroyed by heat, light and storage, so food should be as fresh as possible and cooked carefully.

The body stores some folic acid in your liver, and intestinal bacteria can make some.

Where do you get folic acid?

You get it from spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, lettuce, peas and some fortified foods like wholemeal bread and cereals

Actions of folic acid

Folic acid is needed for the growth and division of all cells: blood, skin, hair, nerve, brain cells, everything that makes up your body.

Too much folic acid

Taking high doses of more than 15 mg a day regularly can cause insomnia, lack of energy and upset digestion. (15 mg is getting on for 40 tablets of 400 mcg a day!)

Too little folic acid

Lack of folic acid causes tiredness, irritability, loss of appetite and sore tongue.

Heart attacks, stroke, cancers, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease are all associated with low levels of folic acid.

Folic acid (vitamin B9) supplements

A supplement works best if taken with other B vitamins and vitamin C.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.