What is Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid)? Functions and Duties of Vitamin B9 for the Body

Vitamin B9 is one of the essential vitamins required by the body for the production of new red blood cells and influencing the quality of blood. It is readily available in a wide range of everyday foods. Let’s delve into the world of this vital nutrient with increaseheightblog.com!

What is Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid)?

Vitamin B9, commonly known as folic acid, belongs to the group of eight B vitamins and holds a significant role in promoting overall bodily health.

Folic acid is essential for daily nutritional needs in the body.

Folic acid is essential for daily nutritional needs in the body.

Uses of Vitamin B9

Vitamin B9, also known as folic acid, offers a range of valuable benefits, including:

  • Preventing Birth Defects and Pregnancy Complications: It plays a crucial role in preventing birth defects and complications during pregnancy.
  • Promoting Brain Health: Vitamin B9 supports brain health and optimal brain function.
  • Complementary Treatment for Mental Health Disorders: It can be used as a complementary treatment for various mental health disorders.
  • Reducing Heart Disease Risk: Vitamin B9 helps reduce risk factors associated with heart disease, contributing to improved heart health.
  • Enhancing Cardiovascular Function in Diabetes: It enhances cardiovascular function, particularly in individuals with diabetes.
  • Reducing Inflammatory Markers: Vitamin B9 has been found to reduce inflammatory markers, particularly in women.
  • Alleviating Methotrexate Side Effects: It can help alleviate the side effects of methotrexate, an immunosuppressive drug used to treat conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and certain cancers.
  • Lowering Homocysteine Levels: Vitamin B9 plays a role in reducing homocysteine levels, thereby lowering the risk of heart disease, especially in kidney disease patients.
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Several medications can lead to vitamin B9 deficiency, including phenytoin (Dilantin), trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, methotrexate, and sulfasalazine.

Causes of Vitamin B9 deficiency include:

  • Dietary Factors: Low consumption of fresh fruits, vegetables, and fiber-fortified grains, or a diet lacking in vitamin B9-rich foods, is a primary cause of deficiency.
  • Underlying Diseases: Conditions like Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, certain types of cancer, and gastrointestinal absorption issues related to dialysis can lead to deficiency.
  • Genetic Factors: Inherited mutations that interfere with the efficient conversion of dietary vitamin B9 can contribute to deficiency.

Common symptoms of folic acid deficiency encompass headache, cold sensation, shortness of breath, pale skin, irritability, fatigue, dizziness, mouth sores, gray hair, swollen tongue, diarrhea, loss of appetite, difficulty concentrating, weight loss, and poor growth, which is a primary indicator of malnutrition.


Vitamin B9 is a water-soluble vitamin that the body easily eliminates. Recommended daily intake varies by age and specific requirements:

For Adults:

  • Adults: 400 mcg DFE (Dietary Folate Equivalents) daily to replenish daily losses of vitamin B9.
  • Pregnant and lactating women: 500 – 600 mcg DFE.

For Children:

  • Infants 0 – 6 months: 165 mcg DFE.
  • Children 7 – 12 months old: 80 mcg DFE.
  • Children 1-3 years old: 150 mcg DFE.
  • Children 4 – 8 years old: 200 mcg DFE.
  • Children 9-13 years old: 300 mcg DFE.
  • Adolescents 14–18 years old: 400 mcg DFE.

Side Effects of Vitamin B9

Excessive levels of unmetabolized folic acid in the bloodstream can mask a vitamin B1 deficiency, potentially increasing the risk of autism and negatively impacting neurocognitive development.

Furthermore, folic acid supplements may present other potential risks, including:

  • Cancer Risk: Studies have shown an increased incidence of prostate cancer in individuals taking folic acid supplements.
  • Mental Impairment in Older Adults: High doses of folic acid supplements may lead to accelerated mental decline in older adults with low vitamin B12 levels.
  • Impact on Immune Function: Elevated doses of folic acid might decrease the activity of protective immune cells, potentially impairing immune function.
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To ensure safety and avoid interactions with other medications and supplements, especially at high doses, it is advisable to consult your doctor before taking vitamin B9 supplements.

Foods Containing Vitamin B9

foods containing vitamin b9

Foods rich in vitamin B9 include oranges, carrots, tangerines, beans, cauliflower, and more.

It is highly recommended to obtain vitamin B9 primarily from dietary sources. Foods that are rich in vitamin B9 include:

  • Green vegetables such as broccoli and spinach.
  • Brussels sprouts.
  • Peas.
  • Fruits like oranges, tangerines, bananas, melons, and tomato juice.
  • Legumes such as lentils.
  • Eggs, liver, poultry, and pork.
  • Shellfish.
  • Whole grains, bran, and cereals.
  • Mushrooms and asparagus.

Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid) and Interactions

Please note that drug interactions can influence how medications work and potentially increase the risk of severe side effects. Therefore, it is essential to consult your doctor before using vitamin B9 supplements, especially if you are taking the following medications:

  • Methotrexate, used to treat specific cancers and autoimmune diseases.
  • Seizure medications like dilantin, carbatrol, and depacon.
  • Sulfasalazine, a medication for ulcerative colitis.

Notes for Using Vitamin B9

Do not initiate, discontinue, or adjust the dosage of any medication without the approval of your healthcare provider.

Ensure that you provide a comprehensive medical history, including information about the medications you are currently taking, any excipients, food allergies, and other relevant details, to enable your doctor to provide accurate advice.

How to Store Vitamin B9

Carefully read and follow the storage instructions on the product packaging or as directed by your doctor or pharmacist. Store vitamin B9 in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and moisture.

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Please keep medications out of the reach of children and pets, and do not dispose of them down the toilet or drains unless instructed to do so. Properly dispose of expired or unused medications following the guidelines of your local waste disposal authority.

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