Vitamin B9 is what most people know as the famous folic acid. That organic chemical compound of the B group of vitamins is also known under several other names: folacin, vitamin M or vitamin B11. Folic acid is commonly associated with pregnancy and constitutes a crucial supplementation element for women who are pregnant or planning to be. You should know, however, that it's necessary for every cell in your body, from the moment of conception up to the last years of life.
Vitamin B9 is essential for the functioning of the nervous system and the brain, and its main task is preventing neural tube defects in foetuses, which can lead to anencephaly, brain herniation or spina bifida. Therefore, folic acid has to be consumed throughout the pregnancy. Few of us associate folic acid with mental health. In fact, it has a great effect on the functioning of the mind, the mood, improves memory and concentration, and its deficiency can cause depression and the deterioration of cognitive functions.
Folic acid has a significant effect on reducing the level of homocysteine - an amino acid that significantly distorts the functioning of the whole system, strengthens atherosclerotic processes, increases the risk of a heart attack or cerebral haemorrhage. Vitamin B9 also exhibits hematopoietic properties, participates in the production and maturation of red blood cells, prevents macrocytic and other types of anaemia.
The human organism does not synthesise folic acid, so it has to be delivered with food. Unfortunately, according to calculations, folic acid's assimilability from food is about 50%, while its synthetic form - nearly 100%. Folic acid supplementation is recommended by specialists.
Vitamin B9 deficiencies are most likely to occur in people who are fond of alcohol (which distorts the process of folate absorption and conversion), suffer from digestive disorders, anaemia or have problems with nutrient absorption. Also the elderly and people with too high a level of homocysteine should take folic acid. It is obligatory for all pregnant women and those who are planning to have children.
It is worth noting that folic acid, used in many supplements, is a synthetic form of vitamin B9. The naturally occurring forms of vitamin B8 are folates. The safest and best absorbable form of vitamin B9 to be found in supplements is metafolin. Compared to folic acid, it is characterised by higher bioavailability and physiological activity as well as top absorption. It is also the most efficient in people with diagnosed MTHFR polymorphism which disables the normal metabolism of folic acid in the organism.