Want to know more about folic acid or vitamin B9? Here you can find the most important information on the water-soluble vitamin B9, also known as folate or folic acid.
We start with a brief profile and continue with the optimum intake, recommended daily requirement, function, risk of overdose or deficiency, through to the best sources of B9 and food supplements. Finally, there is information on what to consider when eating a plant-based diet with regard to vitamin B9.
Here is in advance a short Overview for you:
- Daily requirement
- Food supplement
- Frequently asked questions
Notice: This article is not intended to replace medical advice, but merely to provide general information about folic acid. Please consult your doctor if you feel unwell or want to prevent health problems with medical care.
Folic acid PROFILE AT A GLANCE
Assignment: water-soluble vitamins
Synonyms: Folate, vitamin B9, vitamin B11, vitamin M
Important for: Metabolic processes, growth, cell division1
Daily requirement: 300-400 µg/day from the age of 192,3,4
Overdose: Maximum intake for synthetic folic acid 1,000 µg5
Deficiency symptoms: including impaired cell division and DNA synthesis, anemia, increased homocysteine levels
Food: Green leafy vegetables, green cabbage, eggplant,
Food supplement: in the form of tablets, powder or drops
Absorb vitamin B9 optimally
First of all, I would like to clarify the various terms. Folate are naturally occurring folate compounds in the diet with a vitamin effect and are therefore also known as Vitamin B9 designated. At Folic acid is a synthetic, i.e. industrially produced form of the vitamin. The terms are derived from the Latin word folium (leaf) because the vitamin was first discovered in spinach.
The Bioavailability of folates is between 40 and 60 percent. With the Preparation attention should be paid to the fact that folates are sensitive to heat, light and oxidation. You can Vitamin C to increase bioavailability, as it has a protective effect as an antioxidant.
Good to know: Ideally, foods containing folate should be stored in an airtight container and protected from light and then eaten raw.
What is the daily requirement of FOlat?
The general intake recommendations for folate are geared more towards avoiding deficiency symptoms than towards optimal health. Under certain circumstances, it may make sense to consume more folate than recommended by nutritional societies. The reference values should therefore - as always - serve as a rough guide.
From Office of Dietary Supplements a daily intake of 400 µg folate is recommended for adolescents and adults from the age of 14.3 From the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) a slightly lower intake recommendation of 330 µg per day is given in comparison.4
Finally, you will find here the German Society for Nutrition (DGE) recommended reference values. These are broken down by age and shown in the following table in µg per day2:
|1 to under 4 years
|4 to under 7 years
|7 to under 10 years
|10 to under 13 years
|13 years and older
In addition, the three nutrition societies mentioned pregnant women an increase in daily folate intake to 550-600 µg is recommended. For Lactating women an increased recommendation of 450-500 µg vitamin B9 per day also applies.2,3,4
What functions does folate fulfill in the body?
Folic acid is responsible in the body for DNA production and thus also contributes to the Cell division and to the Growth with. The water-soluble vitamin is also said to have a positive effect on the quality and quantity of sperm.
Folate is also present in a number of Metabolic processes involved. These include protein and homocysteine metabolism. Vitamin B9 interacts with Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12by breaking down homocysteine and thus reducing the risk of developing arteriosclerosis.
As arteriosclerosis is a major risk factor for strokes, the preventive effect of folate was investigated in a study involving 20,000 test subjects. It was found that the preventive administration of an antihypertensive combined with vitamin B9 reduces the risk of stroke. significantly reduces the risk of stroke.6
The Functions of folic acid short and to the point:
- Production of the hereditary substance
- Cell division and growth
- Improving the quantity and quality of sperm
- Metabolic processes
- Reduction of the risk of atherosclerosis
- Reduced risk of stroke
Tip: You can find out how to do this in a separate article. Targeted reduction of the risk of heart disease simply by following your heart.
Is too much vitamin B9 harmful?
Here it is important to distinguish again between natural folate and synthetic folic acid. This is because folate derived from the diet, natural folate there are No maximum intake recommendation, as it does not exhibit any toxic effects.1,3,5
For Folic acid from food supplements or foods fortified with folic acid, the EFSA has set a Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) of 1,000 µg per day.5 The main reason for this restriction is that a high folic acid level in patients with vitamin B12 deficiency improves the blood count to such an extent that the B12 deficiency is not recognizable. The problem here is that the neurological damage caused by vitamin B12 deficiency is not prevented. So if you make sure you have enough B12, a higher folic acid intake than 1,000 µg can also be harmless.
How likely is a folic acid deficiency?
In 2012, the DGE stated in a statement that Germany is not a country with a vitamin deficiency and that the population is sufficiently supplied with vitamins.7 In one of the largest German nutrition studies, the National Consumption Study II, however, it was found that 79 percent of men and 86 percent of women do not reach the recommended reference values for the daily intake of folate.8 The fact that the test persons do not reach the intake recommendations does not yet mean a manifested deficiency, but it can result in health disadvantages.
An Irish study, analyzing data from 5,000 subjects aged 50 and older, concluded that 1 in 7 participants had folate deficiency and 1 in 8 had B12 deficiency.9 Thus should especially older people 50 and older keep an eye on their vitamin supply.
Reasons for a B9 deficiency are mainly due to an unbalanced diet with few green leafy vegetables, cabbage and pulses, as well as a low proportion of raw vegetables. Other causes of deficiency are alcohol abuse, smoking, medication and the contraceptive pill.3,10
Symptoms of deficiency are increased homocysteine levels and the associated increased risk of arteriosclerosis or strokes. Other symptoms include impaired purine and DNA synthesis, anaemia, reduced antibody formation and immunodeficiency, as well as sleep disorders, forgetfulness and depression. In pregnant women, a B9 deficiency also leads to an increased risk of birth defects.
Which foods contain a lot of folic acid?
The valuable vitamin B9 is mainly found in green leafy vegetables, green cabbage and pulses to find. If you want to know more, you can find the best ones in the table below. Sources:
- Wheat Germ (350 µg per 100 grams)
- White beans (300 µg per 100 grams)
- Spinach, raw (192 µg per 100 gram)
- Peanuts (170 µg per 100 grams)
- Bean sprouts (160 µg per 100 grams)
- Lamb's lettuce (160 µg per 100 grams)
- Spinach, steamed (150 µg per 100 grams)
- Brussels sprouts (132 µg per 100 gram)
- Asparagus (128 µg per 100 gram)
- Hazelnuts (113 µg per 100 gram)
- Broccoli (110 µg per 100 grams)
Tip: To keep preparation losses to a minimum, you should eat the foods listed raw or cook them for as short a time as possible.
What do I need to know about folic acid in a vegan diet?
On average, vegans are better supplied with folic acid than vegetarians and mixed dieters. This is partly because vegans eat more green leafy vegetables, various types of cabbage and pulses on average and partly because dairy products and meat only contain very low amounts of folate. Consequently, vitamin B9 is recommended by the DGE not a potentially critical nutrient is defined for a vegan diet.11
Food supplement with vitamin B9
Who should take folic acid supplements? Special attention should be paid to their folate intake by Hypertensive patients, women of childbearing potential, and pregnant and lactating women. lay. Likewise, women who have Birth control pill as they are affected by low folate levels.
It is particularly problematic when women use contraception with the pill and then want to become pregnant. Due to the pill, they have a low folate store, but need a lot of vitamin B9 during pregnancy for proper embryonic development. That is why the Folate supplementation is particularly important for women who wish to have children and pregnant women.1,3,10
But people who do not belong to these groups should also pay attention to their folate intake. As a reminder, in the National Consumption Study II it was found that 79 percent of men and 86 percent of women do not consume enough vitamin B9.8 If you regularly eat green leafy vegetables, green cabbage and pulses, you are probably well supplied with folate. Otherwise, however, supplementation may be advisable.
Which dietary supplements are recommended?
You can supplement folic acid specifically or take a vitamin B complex to directly cover other valuable vitamins. It can make sense to opt for a vitamin combination, as vitamins B6, B9 and B12 work together in various metabolic processes.
A good one, vegan vitamin B complex in Capsules you get here*.
Vegan folic acid capsules in glass packaging you get here*.
Folic acid FAQ: The most frequently asked questions
How important is folic acid for the body?
Folic acid is essential and must be integrated into the diet in sufficient quantities. It helps with DNA production, metabolic processes and, during pregnancy, especially with embryonic development.
What kind of vitamin is folic acid?
Folic acid, also known as folate or vitamin B9, belongs to the B vitamin complex and is therefore a water-soluble vitamin.
How quickly does the body break down folic acid?
Folic acid is stored in the liver. If the body is hardly supplied with folic acid, the store is depleted within two to three months.
Is excess folic acid excreted?
Yes, the body excretes folic acid via the kidneys if you take in more of the vitamin than you need.
What else is folic acid called?
Other names under which folic acid is known are folate, vitamin B9, vitamin B11 or vitamin M.
Green leafy vegetables for desirable folate levels
Your diet has a major influence on your B9 supply. With a a wholesome diet with a high proportion of raw vegetables, lots of green leafy vegetables, cabbage and pulses, you generally don't have to worry about a possible insufficient supply of folic acid.
For a holistic health I also recommend that, in addition to a healthy diet, you use methods such as cold shower or Meditation to try out. These will make you fitter, healthier and more active in the long term!
If you have a question or suggestion about this article on vitamin B9, please write me a comment.
All the best,
1 German Nutrition Society: Selected questions and answers on folate. https://www.dge.de/wissenschaft/weitere-publikationen/faqs/folat/#metab. [18.08.2021]
2 German Society for Nutrition e. V.: Folate, https://www.dge.de/wissenschaft/referenzwerte/folat/?L=0. [18.08.2021]
3 National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements: Folate. Fact Sheet for Health Professionals, https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/folate-HealthProfessional/. [18.08.2021]
4 European Food Safety Authority: Scientific Opinion on Dietary reference values for folate, https://efsa.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.2903/j.efsa.2014.3893 [18.08.2021].
5 European Food Safety Authority: Tolerable Upper Intake Levels for Vitamins and Minerals, https://www.efsa.europa.eu/sites/default/files/efsa_rep/blobserver_assets/ndatolerableuil.pdf. [18.08.2021]
6 Yong Huo et al (2015): Efficacy of Folic Acid Therapy in Primary Prevention of Stroke Among Adults With Hypertension in China, JAMA, https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2205876 [08/18/2021].
7 A. Bechthold, V. Albrecht, E. Leschik-Bonnet, H. Heseker (2012): DGE statement: Assessment of the vitamin supply in Germany. In: Ernährungsumschau 59 (2012), pp. 324-336. Online: https://www.ernaehrungs-umschau.de/fileadmin/Ernaehrungs-Umschau/pdfs/pdf_2012/07_12/EU07_2012_396_401.qxd.pdf. [17.08.21]
8 Max Rubner Institute. J. Möhring, H. F. Erbersdobler (2008). Nationale Verzehrs Studie II - Ergebnisbericht Teil 2. In: Lebensmittel-Warenkunde Für Einsteiger, (Springer), pp. 121-146. Online: https://www.mri.bund.de/de/institute/ernaehrungsverhalten/forschungsprojekte/nvsii/erg-verzehr-naehrstoffe. [17.08.2021]
9 M. Cohut (2018): Low B-12 and folate levels in mature adults 'of concern', https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322287#Older-adults-at-significant-risk. [17.08.2021]
10 Zentrum der Gesundheit: Folic acid: How to remedy a deficiency, https://www.zentrum-der-gesundheit.de/ernaehrung/vitamine/weitere-vitamine/folsaeure. [17.08.2021]
11 Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährung e. V.: Supplement to the position of the German Nutrition Society regarding population groups with special nutritional needs, https://www.dge.de/wissenschaft/weitere-publikationen/dge-position/vegane-ernaehrung/?L=0. [17.08.2021].