General Practice 2022

Áfólic acid: what é, what it is for and consequences of the lack

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Áfólic acid: what é, what it is for and consequences of the lack
Áfólic acid: what é, what it is for and consequences of the lack

Folic acid, also known as vitamin B9 or folate, is a vitamin that is part of the B complex and participates in several functions in the body, mainly in the formation of cells responsible for human growth and development.

In addition, folic acid is also important to maintain the he alth of the brain, arteries and immune system, preventing diseases such as heart attack, cancer and dementia. This vitamin can be found in a variety of foods such as spinach, beans and brewer's yeast, however it can also be obtained in supplement form that can be found in pharmacies or he alth food stores.

The recommended daily intake of folic acid varies with age, and vitamin deficiency can lead to he alth problems such as stroke, anemia, depression, Alzheimer's disease and some types of cancer.In addition, folic acid deficiency can also cause he alth problems during pregnancy, such as high blood pressure during pregnancy and low birth weight of the baby. Understand better about the importance and how to take folic acid during pregnancy.

What is folic acid used for

Folic acid is needed for several functions, such as:

  • Maintain brain he alth, preventing problems such as depression, dementia and Alzheimer's, as folic acid participates in the production of dopamine and noradrenaline, neurotransmitters that help improve concentration, memory and motivation;
  • Participate in the formation of the baby's nervous system, preventing serious problems such as spina bifida and anencephaly in children;
  • Prevent anemia as it stimulates the formation of blood cells, including red blood cells, platelets and white blood cells;
  • Maintain skin and hair he alth, as folic acid is responsible for the growth and maintenance of skin and hair he alth.
  • Prevent some types of cancer, such as colon, lung, breast and pancreas, as folic acid prevents malignant changes in cells.

In addition, folic acid prevents the formation of atheromatous plaques, helping to maintain the he alth of blood vessels and preventing diseases such as atherosclerosis, heart attack and stroke, for example.

Foods sources of folic acid

The main sources of folic acid are dark green vegetables, such as arugula and spinach, legumes, such as lentils and black-eyed peas, good fats, such as sesame seeds, and offal, such as liver of beef or chicken. See a list of foods rich in folic acid.

Recommended amount of folic acid

The amount of folic acid present in foods that should be consumed per day varies according to age and whether the woman is pregnant or breastfeeding:

  • 0 to 6 months: 65 mcg;
  • 7 to 12 months: 80 mcg;
  • 1 to 3 years: 150 mcg;
  • 4 to 8 years: 200 mcg;
  • 9 to 13 years: 300 mcg;
  • 14 years and over: 400 mcg;
  • Pregnant women: 600 mcg;
  • Breastfeeding women: 500 mcg.

Folic acid supplementation is usually recommended in cases of vitamin deficiency, when you have anemia, for pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding, and should be done under the guidance of a doctor. See when and how to use a folic acid supplement.

Consequences of lack of folic acid

Short-term deficiency of folic acid can cause some symptoms such as loss of appetite, weakness, headache, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and hair loss.A vitamin deficiency for long periods can lead to heart disease, such as heart attack and stroke, in addition to causing anemia, depression, Alzheimer's disease and some types of cancer.

Furthermore, folic acid deficiency is also linked to he alth problems during pregnancy such as high blood pressure, miscarriage and premature birth. Already in newborns, vitamin deficiency can cause low birth weight and malformations, such as spina bifida, which is a failure in the spine and spinal cord of the child, cleft palate, which is when the baby is born with the sky open mouth, and cleft lip, when the baby's lips have an opening that can reach the nose.

Can too much folic acid cause symptoms?

The maximum recommended amount of folic acid per day is 1000 mcg, an amount that is usually not exceeded only when consuming foods that are sources of the vitamin. In cases of excessive intake, part of the vitamin is eliminated through the urine, but another part is stored in the liver, which can cause symptoms such as fever, loss of appetite, nausea, itchy skin, stomach pain or difficulty breathing.

Thus, it is important to be careful when supplementing with folic acid, as the vitamin, in addition to ending up accumulating in the body, can also interfere with the absorption of the mineral zinc in food. In the case of the use of drugs for seizures or rheumatism, the folic acid supplement can cause seizures, and should only be consumed with medical advice. Learn more about folic acid supplement recommendations.

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