Folate Deficiency

Folate is a water soluble B vitamin (B-9) that is needed to make deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA). It helps produce new cells, maintain them, and also helps protect DNA from changes induced by chronic diseases like breast cancer, colon cancer, and heart disease (Mighty Micronutrients; IMMPaCt). It may also help prevent anemia, similar to iron.

Folate deficiency can commonly plague pregnant mothers, which can thereby produce neural tube defects in the brain (anencephaly) or spinal cord (spina bifida), low birth weight, premature birth, and a general slow growth rate in infants and children (Mighty Micronutrients). The CDC writes that “approximately 75%, 225,000, of affected births could be prevented through increased consumption of synthetic folate, called folic acid, by all women of reproductive age” (IMMPaCt). Synthetic folic acid is available via supplements or fortified cereals, but other natural sources of folate include leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, dried beans, and peas.