Folic acid is a water soluble vitamin that is associated with the B vitamins. Originally all of the B vitamins were thought to be the same vitamin until it was discovered that they were actually a complex of vitamins that occurred in the same foods and in many cases worked together in the body .
Folic acid is also referred to as folate, folacin or sometimes vitamin M. Folate is basically used to describe the derivatives of a compound called, pteroylglutamic acid. This is the most commonly sold type of folate in the supplement industry. In the industry, folic acid is a term used to pteroylglutamic acid and the term folate is used to imply the derivatives of pteroylglutamic acid.
In fact the food we eat from the natural world contains mostly folates and not folic acid. Folates can be found in liver, yeast, green leafy veggies, peas, and some fruits including citrus.
The form used in fortifying foods is pteroylglutamic acid (PGA) or folic acid itself. Today the government requires fortification of certain foods with folic acid because it is so important to the human body. Mostly folic acid is fortified in cereals and flours. Folic acid can also be found by itself as a supplement or in a B vitamin complex.
Pteroylglutamic acid (PGA) is composed of three large subunits. These are pteridine, P-amino benzoic acid, and glutamic acid. As is easy to see PGA takes its name from combination of the names of the three subunits. Glutamic acid is an amino acid that the body can actually synthesize by itself and is found in proteins.
Folate and folic acid once absorbed are carried to the liver via the bloodstream. Here a small portion of aproximantly a tenth of a mg/day is excreted into the bile. Bile is used by the body to help breakdown fats for absorption, so the folic acid is reabsorbed by the body in this process. Over the course of the day the liver is the main storage site for folic acid containing half of the body’s folic acid supply.
Folic acid found in the cell’s cytoplasm in the form 5-methyl-THF-monoglutamate. In order for folic acid in the blood to be taken into the bodies cells it must first be converted to 5-methyl-THF-monoglutamate from 5-methyl-THF via an enzymatic reaction using vitamin B12. This is an example of the B vitamins working together in the body.
On average the body doesn’t store folic acid or folates long-term and they need to be taken in daily. Interestingly the synthetic form of folic acid sold in supplements and in fortified foods is easier for the human body to absorb than the natural form. In order to get the same amount of nutrient from natural foods as you do from synthetic supplement a person would need to take in one mcg. of folate for every .6 mcg. of folic acid.
The average adult should take in about four hundred micrograms of folic acid daily. Those pregnant, who could become pregnant, or are lactating should take between six hundred and eight hundred micrograms daily.
Author Vincent Platania represents the Stanley Home Products. Stanley Home Products has been in business since 1936, and offers high quality home and personal care products to keep your home and your body clean. Visit www.stanleybeautycare.com
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