First of all, let us know what is folic acid good for our body and what is it. Lucy Wills discovered a link between folic acid and anemia during pregnancy back in 1931. Wills observed the fact that anemia could be overcome by consuming yeast, a great source of such vitamin. It was first extracted in its pure form in the early 1940s from spinach leaves. This early research also led to the discovery of an antifolate known as aminopterin. Aminopterin went on to become the first ever anticancer drug in the last 1940s. By the late 1960s scientists had discovered links between folate deficiency and birth defects. In the late 90s scientists in the US discovered that many people were not able to meet their daily needs for vitamin B9, despite the many different foods which contain it. Because of this the US founded the Folate Fortification Program to help people learn about the importance of this vitamin.
After the discovery that?vitamin B9 deficiency was a leading contributor to neural tube defects in pregnant women, governments and other organizations worldwide has begun to recommend folic acid as a supplement for all pregnant women, or any woman who intends to become pregnant.
Many countries have also started fortifying their flour supplies with this supplement to help ensure people are getting enough in their diet. This program has raised some concerns about personal liberties, including the issue of the supplement fortification masking B12 deficiency, which can lead to pernicious anaemia and other neurological disorders.
It can be found in leafy green vegetables as well as in cereals and breads. Cereals and breads are the greatest source of this supplement found in Western diets. Other foods containing it include egg yolks, yeast, sunflower seeds, liver and most legumes including beans, lentils and peas. Folate deficiency is caused by a lack of vitamin B9 in the diet. It can cause a wide range of health problems including birth defects in the neural tube of a developing embryo.
Symptoms of the condition might include shortness of breath, weakness, numb arms or legs, and diarrhea. Long term deficiency can cause nerve damage in the body, pregnancy complications, confusion, forgetfulness or a number of other mental conditions. It can also cause symptoms like mouth sores, headaches, chest pains, irritability and a wide range of behavioral disorders. Not only that, but because folic acid is needed for DNA repair, folate deficiency can also be a contributing factor for development of cancer.