Vitamin B9 Introduction
Vitamin B9 was discovered in 1941 by Henry Mitchell. It was isolated in 1941 and named folic acid. The name comes from “folium,” which is the Latin word for leaves (because it was first isolated from spinach).
Folic acid helps the body make healthy new cells. It contains a pteridine group linked to para amino benzoic acid and l-glutamic acid. It is slightly soluble in water and stable to heat.
Sources of Folic Acid
Folic acid is particularly present in Beans, Legumes, Cereals, Rice, Citrus fruit, Spinach, cauliflower and dried yeast. Egg, liver and kidneys are rich animal sources.
Requirements of Folic Acid
There is no definite requirement for normal human being. However, an increased amount is required during pregnancy and lactation.
Absorption and storage of Folic Acid
Absorption of folic acid takes place along the whole length of the mucosa of the small intestine. Folic acid about 5-15 mg/g is in the liver and folate is also incorporated into the erythrocytes during erythropoiesis (Red blood cells production).
Deficiency of Folic Acid
Deficiency of vitamin B12 also leads to functional folic acid deficiency.
- Folic acid deficiency leads to megaloblastic anemia characterized by the release of large sized immature red blood cells into the circulation.
- Sprue and symptoms like glossitis and gastrointestinal disturbances have also been reported.
- Macrocytic anemia of pregnancy responds to treatment with folic acid.
Functions of Folic Acid
The following are the functions of Folic acid
- Folic acid serves as coenzymes in reactions involving the transfer of one carbon units like formyl and methyl groups.
- It participates in the reactions concerned with the synthesis of purine, pyrimidine and nucleic acids.
- It is essential for maturation of red blood cells.
- Folic acid is required for the metabolism of amino acids like histidine.
- Along with vitamin B12, folic acid helps in the trans-methylation reactions. Example, uracil to thymine.
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