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Folate: a water soluble B vitamin

Published: July 15, 2016

Green leafy vegetables are sources of folate
Green leafy vegetables are sources of folate

Folate is a water soluble B vitamin and also known as folic acid, vitamin B9, pteroylglutamate, and pteroylmonoglutamate.

These compounds have similar chemical structures and have the generic name of folacin.
Structurally, folic acid is composed of three parts: pteridine, para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), and glutamic acid. All three parts are necessary for vitamin activity.
Folic acid must be obtained from your diet as although your body can synthesise the three components, your body does not produce the enzyme which is required to join pteridine and PABA.
Folate is closely associated with vitamin B12, another water soluble vitamin, as both vitamins are involved in the regeneration of the amino acid methionine and the synthesis of DNA and RNA: the genetic material that is necessary for protein synthesis in your body.
Because of folate's activity in DNA synthesis and the development of new cells, folate is essential for foetal development: particularly the development of the neural tube and central nervous system which occurs in the first few weeks of pregnancy.
It is thought that many women may not meet their requirement for folate which increases the risk of neural tube defects in their developing foetus. Folate may also protect against heart disease and cancer.
Folate deficiency can have serious adverse health effects and while no toxicity symptoms have been reported consuming excessive amounts of folate may mask other vitamin deficiencies.
Link to the full article to learn more about the functions of folate, the effects of under and over consumption of the vitamin, recommendations for folate intake, good sources of folate, and the bioavailability of the vitamin.

Related Topics

Health  Digestion  Micronutrients  Vitamins 

References

1.
Whitney, E. & Rady Rolfes, S. (2005). Understanding Nutrition. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth
2.
Gropper, S.S., Smith, J.L. & Groff, J.L. (2005). Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism (4thEd.). Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.
3.
Center for Science in the Public Interest (September 2014, December 2012, May 2007, March 2010, June 2008, April 2013, June 2013)