The B vitamin folate, also called folic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin. Water-soluble vitamins are stored in the body in very limited amounts and are excreted through the urine. Therefore, it is a good idea to have them in your daily diet. Folate is considered a crucial vitamin before and during pregnancy. Research has shown that folate deficiencies during pregnancy can lead to neural tube birth defects in babies.
Folate's functions include:
- Helping amino acid metabolism and conversion
- Aiding in the conversion of homocysteine to methionine
- Producing and maintaining new cells
- Making DNA and RNA, the building blocks of cells
- Preventing changes to DNA that may lead to cancer
- Making red blood cells and preventing anemia
- Assisting in the creation of neurotransmitters (chemicals that regulate sleep, pain, and mood)
Last reviewedJune 2012by Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.