A..B..C..D… Sometimes knowing all of the different vitamins can seem like alphabet soup.
And when you get to the B vitamins, there’s even more variety – B1, B2, B3 and so on.
So what does it all mean?
What do these various vitamins do for us, and what are the consequences if you don’t get enough?
This is the seventh article in our ongoing series on the B-complex of vitamins. Last time, we looked at Vitamin B7.
In this article we will attempt to demystify vitamin B9, also known as folate or folic acid.
What About Vitamin B8?
What comes before B9? B8 obviously. So why did we skip vitamin B8 in this series?
Vitamin B8, now known as inositol, is actually not a vitamin at all, but a sugar which serves a number of functions.
Inositol, which can be found in fruits, beans, grains, and nuts, is a component of cell membranes.
It also influences insulin, as well as chemical messengers in the brain such as serotonin and dopamine.
The reason why it isn’t considered a vitamin is because your body can synthesize it itself. So, there’s a little about vitamin B8, but you came here for information on vitamin B9, right?
Keep reading for the beeline on B9.
Benefits Of Vitamin B9
There are many important roles which vitamin B9 plays in the body.
From the development of red blood cells and synthesis of DNA, to nervous system function and preventing birth defects in unborn babies, it is truly vital.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits of vitamin B9 to the body.
Helps Create Red Blood Cells
Vitamin B9 works together with vitamin B12 and iron in order to form red blood cells. Because of this, low levels of this vitamin can lead to anemia.
Without enough vitamin B9, a person can develop a disorder called megaloblastic anemia.
In this condition, an individual does not have enough blood cells, and the red blood cells they do have are too large.
Reduces Cancer Risk
A 1997 study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA showed a link between low levels of folate and increased risk of cancer.
Folate is used in the formation of nucleic acids, and the repair and synthesis of DNA molecules.
Low folate can contribute to abnormalities in the development of DNA, which may eventually result in cancerous cell growth.
Prevents Birth Defects
Many people associate folate or folic acid with pregnancy vitamins, and for good reason.
Its best-known use is for preventing birth defects and assisting with spinal development of an unborn baby.
Any person expecting a baby should be sure to get enough B9 in order to avoid serious defects in their baby.
Prevents Premature Aging
Regular consumption of folic acid has been shown to delay signs of aging.
Not only has it been shown to ward off wrinkles, it prevents production of stress hormones and promotes absorption of nutrients.
May Help Fight Depression
A 2005 study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found depressive patients to be low in folate as well as vitamin B12. and suggests that supplementation with both of these can improve the outcome for these patients.
This is likely due to the role folate plays in the production of serotonin and dopamine, which both have effects on mood – depression and anxiety are due to an imbalance of these neurotransmitters.
Many doctors prescribe vitamin B9 for patients with depression and anxiety.
Folic Acid Vs. Folate – What’s The Difference?
Both folic acid and folate are forms of vitamin B9.
Although these two names are often used interchangeably, they have different effects on your body and health, so it is important to understand the difference.
Folate is the naturally occurring form of vitamin B9 and is important to cell growth and the formation of DNA. Low levels of folate are linked to birth defects and an increased risk of cancer.
Folic acid is a synthetic form of vitamin B9. In this form, it takes longer for the body to metabolize the vitamin, which can lead to health issues associated with high levels of unmetabolized folic acid.
Vitamin B9 Deficiency
The following symptoms are indicators that you may be deficient in vitamin B9:
● Ulcers in the mouth, and sore tongue
● A “tingling” or “pins and needle” feeling
● Changes in mood
● Memory issues
If you are experiencing these symptoms and aren’t sure of the cause, consider it may be due to a lack of vitamin B9 – keep reading to learn how to fix this with your diet.
Dietary Sources Of Vitamin B9
Eating a diet rich in vitamin B9 is important.
It can be found in many vegetables including:
● Leafy greens such as kale and spinach
● Broccoli, beans, peas and oranges
● Some meat products, including beef, liver, pork, chicken, and shellfish
● Breakfast cereals which have been fortified.
It should be noted, because this is a water-soluble vitamin, boiling these veggies can cause a loss of vitamin – steaming is a better option.
Contact the Mindful Healing Clinic
Are you worried you may be deficient in vitamin B9 or any other vitamin?
Do you show the symptoms listed in this article, or worry that you are not getting enough of this important vitamin in your diet?
Contact the Mindful Healing clinic for a consultation today and let us help you get back-on-track.
Until next time,
Dr. Maria Cavallazzi is a medical doctor from Colombia where she practiced as a family physician for 8 years until she moved to Canada 16 years ago and became a naturopathic doctor in Mississauga.