Folic Acid is a key water-soluble B vitamin. It received its name from the Latin word folium, meaning “foliage,” because folic acid is found in nature’s leafy green vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and beet greens. Folic acid was discovered in 1931 as a “cure” for the anemia of pregnancy.
The best source of folic acid is foliage, the green leafy vegetables. These include spinach, kale, beet greens and even beets, chard, asparagus, and broccoli. Other sources are liver, kidney, and brewer’s yeast. Folic acid is available from fresh, unprocessed food, which is why it is so commonly deficient in our culture’s processed-food diet.
Folic acid aids in red blood cell production by carrying the carbon molecule to the larger heme molecule, which is the iron-containing part of hemoglobin. With B12, it assists in many amino acid conversions. Because folic acid is important to the division of cells in the body, it is even more essential during times of growth, such as pregnancy, a period of rapid cell multiplication.
Signs of Deficiency:
- Weight loss
Source: Haas, E. (2006) Staying Healthy with Nutrition: The Complete Guide to Diet & Nutritional Medicine. New York, Ten Speed.