|Molecular weight||441.404 g/mol|
|Names and Identifiers|
|Traditional Name||Folate, Folic acid, Folacin, Vitamin B9|
|CAS Registry Number||59-30-3|
Folate, distinct forms of which are known as folic acid, folacin, and vitamin B9, is one of the B vitamins. It may be taken by mouth or by injection. The recommended daily intake of folate in the U.S. is 400 micrograms from foods or dietary supplements. Folate in the form of folic acid is used to treat anemia caused by folic acid deficiency. Folic acid is also used as a supplement by women during pregnancy to reduce the risk of neural tube defects (NTDs) in the baby. Low levels in early pregnancy are believed to be the cause of more than half of babies born with NTDs. More than 80 countries use fortification of certain foods with folic acid as a measure to decrease the rate of NTDs. Long-term supplementation is also associated with small reductions in the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease.
No common side effects are known. Whether high doses over a long period of time are of concern also is unknown. Concerns exist that large amounts of folic acid might hide vitamin B12 deficiency. Folic acid is essential for the body to make DNA, RNA, and metabolise amino acids, which are required for cell division. Not consuming enough folate can lead to folate deficiency. This may result in a type of anemia in which low numbers of large red blood cells occur. Symptoms may include feeling tired, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, open sores on the tongue, and changes in the color of the skin or hair. Folate deficiency in children may develop within a month of poor dietary intake. In adults, normal total body folate is between 10 and 30 mg with blood levels of greater than 7 nmol/L (3 ng/mL).
Folic acid was discovered between 1931 and 1943. It is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines, the most effective and safe medicines needed in a health system. The wholesale cost of supplements in the developing world is between US$0.001 and 0.005 per dose as of 2014. The term “folic” is from the Latin word folium, which means leaf. Folates occur naturally in many foods, especially dark green leafy vegetables, liver, and lentils.