Vitamin B9 : A Critical B Vitamin
There is a good chance that you may have heard of 'folate' as being one of the critical B vitamins, notably in reference to its benefits for reproductive health. When pregnant women don't get enough dietary folate, there is an increased risk of their fetus developing neural tube defects, which can also cause pregnancy loss.
How else is folate beneficial?
Folate, folic acid or Vitamin B9 is one among the key nutrients necessary for the production of oxygen-carrying red blood cells. However, folate deficiency must be severe to adversely affect red blood cell production.
Vitamin B9 has been seen to slow down age-related hearing loss and macular degeneration. This is a reason why elderly individuals who're not getting enough folate through their diet are often recommended folic acid supplements.
Some studies suggest that folic acid can ease depression, though more research is required in this area. There is also evidence to indicate the B vitamin's protective effects against the development of certain forms of cancer, including colon, stomach, pancreatic, breast and cervical cancer.
This B vitamin may also be beneficial for cardiac health, with some evidence relating adequate dietary folic acid with a lower risk of heart disease. It also works with vitamin B6 and B12 to regulate the levels of an amino acid called homocysteine, which is considered one of the risk factors for cardiovascular diseases.
What are the key sources of vitamin B9?
Green leafy vegetables, including turnip greens, spinach, parsley, bok choy and romaine lettuce and are a rich source of folate. Others include cauliflower, asparagus, beets and broccoli.
Legumes are also a good source of folate, with lentils topping the list, followed by navy beans, garbanzo beans, pinto beans, lima beans, white beans and kidney beans.
Some folate-rich fruits are strawberries, papayas, kiwifruit, raspberries, cantaloupe, pineapple and lemon.
Additionally, you can get a decent fix of folate through salmon, beef liver, milk, orange juice, and grain and cereal products.
As with any vitamin, supplementation is an alternative to deriving folate from your dietary food sources. Vitamin B9 is present in multivitamins and B complex vitamins. Separate B9 vitamin supplements are also available in the form of lozenges, soft gels and tablets. It is best to take folate with a multivitamin because B vitamins work together to trigger biochemical reactions throughout your body.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin B9 in adult males and females aged 19 years and above is 400 micrograms (mcg). Pregnant and breastfeeding women need 600 mcg and 500 mcg respectively.
Vitamin B9 protects your health in a number of ways.
Green leafy vegetables and legumes are rich sources of dietary folate.
It is advisable to take vitamin B9 with other vitamins.