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Folic acid regulates cell growth and functioning, has a beneficial effect on the nervous system and the brain, prevents neural tube damage in foetuses, is beneficial for the development of new-born babies, regulates cell division and participates in blood production.
Participation in erythropoiesis
A relationship has been observed between consuming folic acid and the normal process of red blood cell production (erythropoiesis). The acid’s deficiencies lead to errors in DNA synthesis, and the incorrect fragments are cut out of the chain. When the process occurs several times, it leads to DNA fragmentation and cell cycle disorders that cause megaloblastosis, which is a morphological representation of biochemical disorders leading to the inhibition of DNA synthesis.
The main clinical effect of folic acid deficiency is megaloblastic anaemia, characterised by large, abnormally nucleated red blood cells that cumulate in bone marrow. As a result of general decrease of cell division, a reduction in the number of white blood cells and thrombocytes is also observed.
Participation in homocysteine metabolism
Methyl folate (5-MTHF) is an important regulating element during the production of methionine from homocysteine. Obstacles in homocysteine metabolism result in the accumulation of the substance in intracellular space and its subsequent export to the blood. Depending on the extent of disorders, its level in blood plasma can increase to a different extent. Hyperhomocysteinaemia in people is thought to be a risk factor of developing cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases, congenital malformations and cancer.
Participation in cell division
During the S-phase of the cell division cycle, the cell's DNA is replicated. The process depends on the presence of folate's active forms, and their deficiencies make the right synthesis of deoxyribonucleic acid impossible. Folic acid's additional function in nucleotide production consists in de novo synthesis of adenine and guanine, two out of four nitric bases that constitute the DNA chain.
Support for the immune system
Folic acid plays a key role in nucleotide synthesis, so it can affect cell proliferation in the immune system and its reactions. Folate deficiencies have been observed to reduce the proliferation of many cell types.
Cells deprived of folates are accumulated in the S-phase as a result of the distortion of nucleotide balance and slower DNA synthesis. When cells are provided with folic acid they were lacking, the accumulation in the S-phase is reversed and the division restored. Folic acid deficiency has also been proven to reduce the amount of circulating T lymphocytes and their proliferation.
Participation in amino acid synthesis
Folic acid coenzymes are active in amino acid metabolism, including histidine catabolism into glutamic acid, serine transformation into glycine and homocysteine remethylation into methionine. Folic acid mediates in transporting single carbon atoms from serine. The conversion of homocysteine into methionine serves mainly as a source of methionine for S-adenosyl methionine, which is a methyl group donor in many reactions of protein, nucleoprotein, histone, neurotransmitter and phospholipid methylation.
Maternal tissue growth during pregnancy
Folic acid is needed during pregnancy in order to increase the mother's erythrocyte mass. That causes the formation of a placenta and the development of the foetus, the womb, breasts and other maternal tissue, which is caused by the acid's role in cell division.
A serious folic acid deficiency in people is characterised by the occurrence of macrocytic anaemia, which causes such symptoms as weakness, fatigue, concentration problems, irritability, headaches, palpitations and dyspnoea. Therefore, a cause and effect relationship has been noted between the consumption of folic acid and its contribution into maintaining normal psychological functions.
Recommended supplementation - for whom?
Folic acid supplementation is particularly recommended for all people vulnerable to its deficiencies, that is: pregnant women, adolescent girls, infants, elderly people, excessive alcohol drinkers, and those who follow a starvation diet or one based on a single product.
Moreover, deficiencies may occur in people susceptible to absorption and folate transformation disorders, during chronic diseases of the gastrointestinal tract and those who are on various drug treatments.
1 capsule per day during a meal.
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