Folic acid, Folate (Vitamin M)
Vitamin M/B9 is another of the essential B vitamins, is actually a group of compounds that include Folic Acid and similar substances. It is essential for making genetic material (DNA and RNA) and red blood cells, healing wounds and building muscle tissues. It is also instrumental in a number of metabolic functions, including the synthesis of choline and the formation of various amino acids-the building blocks of proteins. It works closely with vitamins B6 and B12 too, among other functions, protect against heart disease by controlling blood levels of homocysteine, a by product of protein metabolism.
Folic acid works closely with vitamins B6 and B12 as well as the nutrients betaine and S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) to control blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine. Elevated levels of this substance appear to be linked to certain chronic conditions such as heart disease and, possibly, depression and Alzheimer's disease. Some researchers have even speculated that there is a connection between high levels of this amino acid and cervical cancer, but the results of studies regarding this have been inconclusive.
Vitamin B9 folic acid has a direct effect on lessening depression. It helps regulate sleep, and appetite. Recent research has shown that B12 can help prevent certain heart ailments. Vitamin B12 is so important in preventing birth defects that it is now required by law to be added to certain grain based foods.
In the form of a series of tetrahydrofolate compounds, folate derivatives are coenzymes in a number of single carbon transfer reactions biochemically, and also is involved in the synthesis of dTMP (2'-deoxythymidine-5'-phosphate) from dUMP (2'-deoxyuridine-5'-phosphate). The pathway in the formation of tetrahydrofolate (FH4) is the reduction of folate (F) to dihydrofolate (FH2) by folate reductase, and then the subsequent reduction of dihydrofolate to tetrahydrofolate (FH4) by dihydrofolate reductase.
Methylene tetrahydrofolate (CH2=FH4) is formed from tetrahydrofolate by the addition of methylene groups from one of three carbon donors: formaldehyde, serine, or glycine. Methyl tetrahydrofolate (CH3-FH4) can be made from methylene tetrahydrofolate by reduction of the methylene, and methylidine tetrahydrofolate (CHO-FH4) is made by oxidation of the methylene tetrahydrofolate.
Folate and folic acid are forms of a water-soluble B vitamin. Folate occurs naturally in food. Folic acid is the synthetic form of this vitamin that is found in supplements and fortified foods. Folate gets its name from the Latin word "folium" for leaf. A key observation of researcher Lucy Wills nearly 70 years ago led to the identification of folate as the nutrient needed to prevent the anemia of pregnancy. Dr. Wills demonstrated that the anemia could be corrected by a yeast extract. Folate was identified as the corrective substance in yeast extract in the late 1930s and was extracted from spinach leaves in 1941. Folate is necessary for the production and maintenance of new cells. This is especially important during periods of rapid cell division and growth such as infancy and pregnancy. Folate is needed to make DNA and RNA, the building blocks of cells. It also helps prevent changes to DNA that may lead to cancer. Both adults and children need folate to make normal red blood cells and prevent anemia.
Folic acid is crucial for proper brain function and plays an important role in mental and emotional health. It aids in the production of DNA and RNA, the body's genetic material, and is especially important during periods of high growth, such as infancy, adolescence and pregnancy. Folic acid also works closely together with vitamin B12 to regulate the formation of red blood cells and to help iron function properly in the body.
Folic acid deficiency is the most common B vitamin deficiency. Animal foods, with the exception of liver, are poor sources of folic acid. Plant sources rich in folic acid are frequently not obtained in adequate amounts in the diet. Alcoholism, irritable bowel syndrome, and celiac disease contribute to deficiency of this important nutrient. Folic acid deficiency can cause poor growth, tongue inflammation, gingivitis, loss of appetite, shortness of breath, diarrhea, irritability, forgetfulness, and mental sluggishness.
Synonyms: N-(p-(((2-amino-4-hydroxy-6-pteridinyl)methyl)amino)benzoyl)-l-glutamic acid, l-pteroylglutamic acid, folacin, folate, NSC 3073, pteglu, pteroyl-l-glutamic acid, USAF CB-13, Vitamin B11, Vitamin BC, Vitamin M, PGA, liver lactobacillus casei factor, cytofol, foliamin, folipac, folsaure, folsan, foluite, incafolic, millafol, folettes, acifolic, folsav, Vitamin BE, folbal, folcidin
Use: permitted food additive, dietary supplement (especially during pregnancy)
Molecular formula: C19H19N7O6
CAS No: 59-30-3