Folate needed for nerve, brain functioning

June 6, 2012 at 12:49 AM
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SANTA MONICA, Calif., June 6 (UPI) -- Vitamin B9, better known as folate or folic acid, is needed by pregnant women, but all need it for nerve and brain functioning, a U.S. food expert says.

"Beyond pregnancy, one of folate's key functions is to allow for development of red blood cells. These cells help carry oxygen around the body, thus a type of anemia can occur if folic acid intake is low or one is deficient," Phil Lempert, a food industry analyst, trend watcher and creator of, said. "Folate is also essential for normal nerve and brain functioning, and may help reduce blood-levels of homocysteine -- elevated levels increase one's risk of cardiovascular disease especially cells with a quick turnover, i.e. skin cells, gastrointestinal cells."

Folate deficiency has been linked to issues with these tissues, including: dermatitis, loss of skin pigment, cancers of the esophagus and lung, uterus and cervix and colon.

The U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowance is 400 micrograms for adults, but women who are pregnant or nursing should discuss requirements with their physician, Lempert said.

Food high in folate are: lentils, romaine lettuce, spinach, turnip greens, beets, pinto beans, black beans, garbanzo beans, avocado, sunflower seeds, mustard greens and kale, Lempert added.

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