Folic acid is one of the vitamins that make up the Vitamin B complex. Also known as folacin and folate, this essential nutrient serves the body in many ways. While important for all age groups, folic acid is especially necessary to pregnant women and important to those entering their elder years.

However, despite all its known benefits, many people fail to meet the recommended daily intake levels, which can have real health consequences.

Folic acid is important from the very first moment of life. In fact, if a couple is even thinking about getting pregnant, the woman should immediately begin to monitor her folic acid consumption, making sure that she meets the suggested daily intake levels.

Most health care professionals recommend that every woman of childbearing age make sufficient folic acid consumption a nutritional priority.

That is because this nutrient is vital to the development of the baby from the moment of conception. It can help to prevent serious birth defects in the brain and spine, called neural tube defects. Spinal Bifida is one of the more well known of these defects.

These types of defects usually occur within the first few weeks of development, which means they happen before the average woman even realizes she is pregnant.

Other important functions of folic acid within the body include, in addition to assisting in the formation of genetic material in each and every cell of the body, the formation of red blood cells essential to transporting oxygen and nutrients throughout the body and tissue growth.

Folic acid, according to recent research, has been associated with such health benefits as protection against such debilitating diseases as Alzheimer’s disease, some cancers and heart diseases.

It is also thought to offer a certain degree of protection from strokes.

Deficiencies in folic acid can cause a myriad of health problems. Among them are ulcerations in the mouth, inflammation of the tongue, peptic ulcers, and chronic diarrhea. Folic acid deficiency can also contribute to certain kinds of anemia.

Folic acid is a water soluble nutrient, which means it flows out of the body with the urine and the body’s supplies must be replenished daily. Because of its great importance in the reproductive system and the protections it offers, as well as its role in other essential bodily functions, it is a good idea to consider taking dietary supplements to ensure that the recommended daily intake levels are met.

Particularly in the realm of potential birth defects of such a serious and debilitating nature, better safe than sorry should be the philosophy when it comes to folic acid daily intake levels.

When choosing a dietary supplement, it is always important to read and understand the label. That will help you to ensure that you are getting the daily intake levels of the nutrients you seek. For example, a prenatal vitamin will focus on different nutrients and levels of intake than a general, all-purpose daily multi-vitamin. When planning your supplement use, make an honest assessment of your eating habits.

That way, you can select individual supplements that match your individual dietary needs and health goals, and avoid getting too much of some and too little of others.

So much of good health is planning and maintaining a routine that ensures the daily consumption of proper nutrients. Folic acid supplements can offer a safe and sure means of meeting the body’s daily requirements of this essential and protective nutrient.

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