Folate (Vitamin B-9, Folic Acid)

Function: Folate is important in the production and maintenance of new cells. Folate is especially important during pregnancy and infancy. It is also necessary for red blood cell production, growth, and reproduction. Pregnant women who consume a healthy amount of B-9 early in pregnancy are less likely to have children who suffer from birth defects related with the brain or spinal cord.

Sources: Leafy greens, mushrooms, liver, dry beans and peas, fortified cereals and juices, and grain products are all excellent sources of folic acid.

Recommended daily intake: Men need 200 micrograms of B-9 daily, while intake for women varies. Women who cannot become pregnant require only 180 mcg daily. However, women who plan on becoming pregnant, can become pregnant, or are pregnant should consume 400 mcg daily. Breastfeeding mothers need 280 micrograms daily. A folate deficiency can cause diarrhea, anemia, loss of appetite, weight loss, and sore tongue. People who drink large amounts of alcohol may need extra folic acid to avoid deficiency.

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