Vitamin B9 (folate or folic acid), is a water-soluble B vitamin formulated from triamine hydro-chloride. Good sources of folate include: green leafy vegetables, garbanzo beans, lentils, spinach, orange juice, and fortified foods (cereals, breads, spaghetti).1 The 100% Daily Value for folate (based on a 2000 kcal diet) is 400 mcg (µg).The 100% Daily Value for pregnant or lactating women is 600 μg, effective as of July 26, 2018.8

Forms

  • Folic Acid: Folic acid is one of the many forms of Vitamin B9. Folic acid is more bioavailable than food folate because folic acid delivers twice as much Vitamin B9 than food folate (0.5 µg of folic acid supplement or fortified food = 1 µg of food folate).3

Major Health Benefits

Vitamin B9 (Folate) is involved in amino acid synthesis and metabolism and plays an important role in the synthesis of compounds needed for the formation of genetic materials (RNA and DNA) that are essential to cell division. Folate also plays an important role in maintaining normal homocysteine levels, psychological function, and immune system.4,5 Folate is also essential for maternal tissue growth (e.g., mother’s red blood cell mass, placenta, uterus, and breasts) as well as fetal tissue growth during pregnancy.4 Adequate intake of folic acid during pregnancy may prevent birth defects (e.g., neural tube defects, such as spinal bifida) as well as fatigue, weakness and shortness of breath (megaloblastic anemia).6

Cautions

The recommended maximum consumption of Folate per day is 1000 µg3. Excess intake of Folate may increase risk of neurological damage to individuals with a Vitamin B12 deficiency7.

References

  1. Higdon, J. Folate. Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University. 2000. (Reviewed by McNulty, H in 2014) (Food Sources) http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/folate Accessed 7/2015.
  2. US Food and Drug Administration. Guidance for Industry: A Food Labeling Guide (14. Appendix F: Calculate the Percent Daily Value for the Appropriate Nutrients). US Department of Health and Human Services. 2013 January.
  3. Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Folate. Dietary Reference Intakes: Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, Choline. Washington D.C.: National Academy Press; 1998: 87-122 (pp. 196)
  4. European Food Safety Authority.Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to folate and blood formation, homocysteine metabolism, energy-yielding metabolism, function of the immune system, function of blood vessels, cell division, and maternal tissue growth during pregnancy. EFSA Journal 2009;7(9):1213.
  5. European Food Safety Authority.Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to folate and contribution to normal psychological functions, maintenance of normal vision, reduction of tiredness and fatigue, cell division, and contribution to normal amino acid synthesis. EFSA Journal 2010;8(10): 1760.
  6. Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Folate. Dietary Reference Intakes: Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, Choline. Washington D.C.: National Academy Press; 1998: 87-122 (pp. 200/205)
  7. Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Folate. Dietary Reference Intakes: Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, Choline. Washington D.C.: National Academy Press; 1998: 87-122 (pp.273)
  8. US Food and Drug Administration. Food Labeling: Revision of the Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels. US Department of Health and Human Services. Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 103, p. 33982 / May 27, 2016. https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-05-27/pdf/2016-11867.pdf