Also called folate, vitamin B9 is one of the eight B vitamins. All B vitamins assist the body in processing carbohydrates and converting them to glucose. The body then uses this glucose for energy production. B vitamins are also crucial for the nervous system to work properly, and help the body make use of proteins and fats. Since vitamin B9 is water-soluble, not fat-soluble, the body is not able to hold on to any additional stores of folic acid. Thus, it is important to provide the body with a regular supply of folate.
What is Vitamin B9 Used for?
This B vitamin works in conjunction with other B vitamins in order to regulate the level of homocysteine. This is an amino acid that is found in the blood and is connected with heart disease. It is common to have a low level of folic acid, especially for people with intestinal or immune disorders, or alcoholics. There are several symptoms of folic acid deficiency, including:
- Issues in the mouth, such as gingivitis and swelling of the tongue
- Mental issues, including irritability, absentmindedness, or feeling slow
- Loss of appetite
During Pregnancy - Vitamin B9 is often consumed as folic acid, which is the synthetic form of folate. Many medical professionals recommend that pregnant women consume folic acid as part of their prenatal care. This is because folic acid plays a large role in the production of DNA. Without sufficient levels of folic acid, development can become impaired and lead to problems such as incomplete spinal cords or brain tissue. Consuming folic acid during pregnancy can also reduce the mother’s risk of other medical issues, such as:
- A stroke
- Some forms of cancer
- Alzheimer’s disease
How is Vitamin B9 Consumed?
Folate can be consumed naturally through food, or can be added as a supplement. Most children and adults consume enough folic acid through a balanced diet. Foods that are high in folate include dark, leafy greens, beans, whole grains, and salmon. All grain and cereal products in the United States are manufactured with additional quantities of folic acid.
As a supplement, vitamin B9 can be taken as a tablet, chewable pill, lozenges, or liquid drops. It is found in multivitamins, which are an excellent option as vitamin B9 requires other B vitamins to work effectively. It is best to consult a medical professional before providing children with any supplements.
Interactions with Medications
There are some types of medicines that may be affected by folic acid. In some medications such as anti-seizure medications, chemotherapy, and some antibiotics, folic acid can interfere with the effectiveness of the medications or prevent the body from properly absorbing them.
These medications can include certain antibiotics, antiseizure medications, and chemotherapy.
As well, there are some medicines that inhibit the body’s ability to absorb folic acid. When taking these medicines, users should also consult a doctor about consuming additional folic acid. These medications can include antacids, anti-inflammatories, diuretics, antibiotics, and bile acid sequestrants.