Posted on Oct 24, 2019, 8 p.m.
Vitamin B9/folate is also referred to as folic acid in synthetic form, this is an essential nutrient that is obtained from many fruits and green leafy vegetables, and a deficiency can lead to many health problems such as fragile X syndrome, according to a study published in PNAS.
University of Copenhagen researchers specifically looked for associations between folate deficiency and problems with DNA replication and segregation; lack of folate was found to lead to more harmful chromosome abnormalities as it plays a role in the production and repair of DNA. When DNA replicates daughter cells don’t get the correct amount of DNA after the cells divide, and in some cases an entire chromosome can be missing.
This is the reason why the researchers believe that folate deficiency is associated with the development of many diseases. To add to this when a cell loses part of a chromosome or the entire thing it can’t be restored, and when folate deficiency results in problems with cell division it can’t be fixed by increasing folic acid intake, and this damage can’t be reversed.
Findings suggest that getting enough folate may prevent or lower the risk of developing chronic diseases such as cancer, age related dementia, infertility, mental health problems and anemia wherein a person has a low red blood cell count. Those who are pregnant may need more folate, and a deficiency increases the risk of giving birth to a baby with a neural tube defect which can lead to spina bifida.
Within a few weeks of not consuming enough foods that contain folate a deficiency can occur because the body is not able to store it in large amounts. Digestive problems that cause folate malabsorption such as celiac and Crohn’s disease, excessive alcohol consumption, hemolytic anemia, and certain drugs can also cause a deficiency.
Symptoms of deficiency are subtle and can include gray hair, tongue swelling, mouth sores, fatigue, and growth problems. To help ensure you have optimal folate levels try to eat foods like avocados, eggs, bananas, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, legumes, peas, poultry, spinach, and broccoli. Heat can destroy folate so try not to overcook them and keep in mind most produce that is rich in folate also makes a tasty raw treat. If for some reason you can’t get enough via food it is also available in supplement form.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.