Vitamin B9, also called folic acid or folate, is the last of the nine B-vitamins. We all need B vitamins to help convert the food we eat to fuel more efficiently and folic acid is necessary for healthy skin, hair, nails, liver and pregnancy too.
Folic acid also works closely with vitamin B12 to help make red blood cells and help iron work properly in the body and are vital for pregnancy. While most people associate anaemia with lack of iron, megaloblastic anaemia is actually the most common sign that you are not getting enough folate from your diet. Symptoms of megaloblastic anaemia include weakness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, headaches, and shortness of breath.
Some studies show that many people with depression have low folate levels in their bodies, and those with very low levels tend to be the most depressed. Low levels of folic acid have also been associated with more incidence of postnatal depression in mothers who have just given birth.
Folate is naturally found in a wide variety of foods including vegetables (especially dark, green leafy vegetables and okra), fruits, nuts, liver, poultry, meat, dairy products, eggs, and grains and legumes.
Folic acid is also available in multivitamin supplements and as a stand-alone supplement. All pregnant women or women trying to get pregnant should be taking a folic acid supplement in order to prevent health defects in their babies. If you are pregnant, folic acid is needed for the proper development of your baby during its earliest stages. This is why it is recommended that all women take a supplement even before you get pregnant.
Make sure that you are getting enough folic acid in your diet and taking a supplement if you are expecting. This is one vitamin you and your baby need.