Benefits And Functions Of Vitamin B9: Foods Sources Of Folic Acid

Vitamin B9 or Folic acid was synthesized for the first time from spinach in 1945 in its pure form as a crystalline yellow powder. Folic acid plays an important role as a coenzyme in cellular metabolism. Vitamin B9 is a member of B group vitamins and like other B vitamins it is also soluble in water. The chemical name of folic acid is pteroylglutamic acid.

Vitamin B9 (folic acid) is essential for normal growth and reproduction. Its action in preventing anemia is well known. It has many other biochemical actions with each cell.

Folic acid is involved in synthesis of nucleic acid, the genetic building block of the cell. Deficiency of folic acid or vitamin B9 in pregnant women has serious implication of birth defect in growing fetus.

Vitamin B9 is present in plant and animal food. It is absorbed from the small intestine. There is rapid absorption from the intestine and the vitamin can be detected in the blood within minutes after feeding. The peak level in the blood reaches one to two hours after eating food containing folic acid. Below are given the sources of vitamin B9 and its benefits and function in the body.

What Foods Are High In Folic Acid Or Vitamin B9?

Folic acid is widely distributed in animal and plant tissue. The richest sources are, brewer’s yeast, kidney, liver, and fresh green vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach. In small quantity folic acid is present in cereals, nuts, meat and some fruits. Milk has relatively less amount of vitamin B9.

The normal daily requirement of vitamin B9 is 200mcg in men and 180mcg in women. The requirement may increase in variety of states such as pregnancy, infancy and pathological condition such as anemia, myelosclerosis etc.

Below are given some important foods which contain vitamin B9 in good amount.

  • Cereals: Dry maize, wheat flour and barley.
  • Pulses and legumes: Cowpeas, whole Bengal gram, split Bengal gram, roasted Bengal gram, lentil and bean sprouts.
  • Vegetables: Spinach, cluster beans, ladies finger, curry, leaves, kale, amaranth, colocasia, French beans, cabbage, broccoli, turnip, collard green, asparagus etc.
  • Fruits: Bananas, oranges, lemon, cantaloupes etc.
  • Non vegetarian sources: Poultry, fish such as tuna and salmon, pork, shellfish, kidney and liver.
  • Nuts and oil seeds: Sunflower seeds, gingelly seeds, groundnuts, coconut and peanuts.
  • Brewer’s yeast.

Benefits & Functions Of Vitamin B9 In The Body

  • Folic acid in conjunction with vitamin B12 is important for formation of red blood cells and heme, a pigment which binds iron in the red blood cells to form hemoglobin.
  • Vitamin B9 plays an important role in cellular lining, particularly of mucus membrane lining. Low level of folic acid has been associated with an increased risk of cervical dysplasia. It is a potential premalignant stage of cervical cancer.
  • Folic acid is required for synthesis of nucleic acid. This acid is necessary for biological functioning of any normal cell.
  • It helps in metabolism of protein and thus aids in normal body growth.
  • It enhances production of antibodies which are vital for healing infection.
  • Vitamin B9 prevents premature ageing. It prevents premature graying of hair and early wrinkles on the skin.
  • Required amount of folic acid in a pregnant woman will prevent birth defect in fetus. It is especially essential during the first trimester when the neural growth is at the peak in the fetus. Adequate amount of folic acid ensures good lactation after child birth.