GENERIC NAME: folic acid (folate), vitamin B9
BRAND NAME: FA-8, Folacin, Folic Acid, GNC Folic Acid 400, and many more
DISCONTINUED BRAND: Folicet
DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Folic acid and folate are water-soluble forms of vitamin B9 that is naturally found in many of the foods we eat. Folate occurs naturally in food while folic acid is the man-made form of this important vitamin. Common dietary sources of folate include
- green leafy vegetables,
- fruits and fruit juices,
- dairy products,
- beef kidney, and
- beef liver.
Additionally, folic acid is added to many food products (fortified) and is available as a dietary supplement.
Folic acid is an important vitamin that is needed for the proper development of the human body. Folic acid is needed to make DNA and other genetic material and for the synthesis of red blood cells. Folic acid deficiency can cause megaloblastic anemia, a red blood cell disorder that can cause symptoms of weakness, fatigue, trouble concentrating, irritability, headache, abnormal heartbeats, and shortness of breath. Folic acid is necessary for healthy skin, hair, and nails. Therefore, folic acid deficiency may cause sores in the mouth, and changes in the color of the skin, hair, or fingernails. Additionally, maintaining healthy levels of folic acid during pregnancy is very important. Pregnant women who do not get enough folic acid are at risk of giving birth to babies with neural tube defects such as spina bifida. Folic acid deficiency during pregnancy may also increase the likelihood of having a premature delivery or a low weight baby.
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