Folic Acid: Deficiency, Benefits, What’s In It? Foods Containing Folic Acid

Folic Acid

Folic acid, one of the B group vitamins, plays a role in many important functions such as DNA synthesis and cell division. The deficiency of this vitamin, which has proven to have healing effects for cancer diseases, psychological disorders, nervous system disorders and many more health problems, can also lead to various ailments.

Many congenital anomalies may occur, especially neural tube defects such as Spina Bifida, if adequate folic acid is not taken during pregnancy. In order to maintain a healthy development both in the womb and in the postnatal life, foods rich in folic acid should be consumed and a possible deficiency should be prevented.

How Is Folic Acid Deficiency Diagnosed?

Folic acid deficiency is a problem that affects all cells of the body and therefore can cause a wide variety of symptoms. When folic acid deficiency occurs in the body, first rapidly dividing body cells such as erythrocytes (red blood cells), and then other tissues are affected. Therefore, one of the first symptoms observed is anemia problem.

Folic acid deficiency in children can lead to slow growth and failure to maintain healthy development. If growth retardation is progressing with complaints such as diarrhea, loss of appetite, sleep disturbance, forgetfulness and nausea, folic acid deficiency should come to mind and a doctor’s control should be preferred.

Other symptoms that indicate a lack of folic acid in the body:

  • Tiredness
  • low energy
  • dizziness
  • Weakness
  • It can be listed as a feeling of fainting and getting tired quickly.

Along with these complaints, headache, palpitation, ringing in the ears, pale skin appearance, numbness in the hands and feet are the clinical symptoms that can be observed in folic acid deficiency.

Folic Acid Benefits and Functions

  • The main uses of folic acid are to prevent and treat the formation of neural tube defects; atherosclerosis, osteoporosis and cervical dysplasia (abnormal growth of cervical cells) can be listed as treatment.
  • Neural tube defect is a developmental anomaly that occurs during the development of the baby in the mother’s womb and affects both the brain and spinal cord. The most common neural tube defect is the developmental disorder called spina bfida, and folic acid supplementation in early pregnancy has been proven to reduce the incidence of neural tube defect between 48% and 80%.
  • Folic acid also provides protection against many cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis by balancing the level of protein called homocysteine ​​in the blood.
  • It can be said that adequate daily intake of folic acid reduces the risk of heart attack, stroke and the development of many vascular diseases.
  • The protein structure called homocysteine ​​in the blood is a substance that damages not only the heart and brain vessels, but also the bones. Especially in women, due to high homocysteine ​​levels, bone structure is impaired and the risk of developing osteoporosis (bone loss) increases. It is possible to keep homocysteine ​​levels under control and reduce the risk of osteoporosis with regular folic acid intake.
  • Cervical dysplasia, which is defined as the abnormal growth of cervical cells, is a serious health problem that can become cancerous in the future. Studies have shown that with a daily supplement of 10 mg of folic acid, cervical dysplasia regresses and uterine cells return to normal sizes.

What is Folic Acid?

List of foods containing folic acid:

Liver: A serving of curdled liver contains about 240 mcg of folic acid, making the liver one of the best sources of folic acid.

Green Leafy Vegetables: Foods extremely rich in folic acid:

  • Brussels sprouts
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Green beans
  • Lettuce
  • Cauliflower
  • Peas
  • fresh corn

Fruits: Folic acid source fruits include:

  • Orange
  • Grapefruit
  • Banana


  • wholemeal bread
  • White bread
  • Boiled Pasta
  • Boiled rice is also among the foods rich in folic acid.

Necessity and Importance of Folic Acid for Pregnancy

One of the most serious problems that occur in folic acid deficiency is embryonic developmental anomalies. These anomalies, which occur due to insufficient folic acid intake during pregnancy, are called neural tube defects and cause both physical and mental problems by affecting cerebrospinal development.

Neural tube defects can lead to countless life-threatening difficulties and even death. The main problems that develop due to neural tube defects are inability to walk or walking, hydrocephalus (water accumulation in the brain), urinary tract infections, chronic kidney failure due to leakage of urine to the kidneys, spinal curvature or posture disorder, persistent back pain, meningitis, 10-15% It can be listed as mental retardation, 60% learning disability and concentration disorder.

The incidence of this disease can be reduced by 80% with regular folic acid supplementation during pregnancy. From the beginning of pregnancy, 400 milligrams of folic acid intake should be taken every day, and dietary habits should be regulated accordingly.

Expectant mothers should first have a pregnancy examination and have their folic acid pregnancy level measured along with all the values. Then, green leafy vegetables, liver, kidney, eggs, grains without skin, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, lentils, spinach, alfalfa, parsley, mint, legumes and seeds should be added to the meals as much as possible.

However, meeting the daily folic acid requirement with diet alone is not as easy as it seems. At this point, folic acid medication is usually recommended by the doctor and nutritional support is continued with medication to meet the daily folic acid requirement.

How Is Folic Acid Used?

The use of folic acid during pregnancy is extremely necessary and should not be ignored; however, all risks should be considered and drug supplements should be taken with the advice of a doctor.

Folic acid varieties are generally produced in two forms as the form developed to be used before the pregnancy starts and the folic acid form that is started to be used with the onset of pregnancy.

Folic acid prices also vary according to the drug form produced and the dose of the drug. If an unplanned pregnancy has developed, folic acid supplementation should be taken as soon as it is learned, and drug forms developed for these conditions should be preferred.

The frequency of daily use of the folic acid drug is determined by your doctor. It is extremely important for your baby’s development in the womb that you comply with the specified usage methods and have your folic acid value measured with regular controls.

What Are Folic Acid Side Effects?

Like all medicines, folic acid supplementation can cause some side effects in the body. The frequency and severity of the side effects seen vary from person to person, and in some cases, no side effects develop.

The most common folic acid side effects can be listed as muscle contractions, abdominal cramps, nausea and indigestion, disturbed sleep patterns, intestinal problems such as diarrhea and gas, irritability and confusion. These effects are usually short-lived and are not known to cause major discomfort.

However, after folic acid use, difficulty in breathing, wheezing; The development of complaints such as swelling on the face, lips and eyelids, skin rash and itching, redness and sensitivity in the body indicates that you are allergic to some substances in this drug.

In such a situation, immediate medical attention should be sought.

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