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Folic Acid or Foliate as it is sometimes known is actually a type of B Vitamin. This essential nutrient is important for a wide range of functions in the body from growth and devolvement to cardiovascular health. Folic acid is also involved in the formation of our DNA, and works with vitamin B12 in the production of red blood cells. Folic acid is particulary important prior to and during pregnancy as a deficiency can have a potentially tragic effect on the development of a foetus.

Food sources
Foliate or folic acid can be found in foods such as cabbage, cauliflower, spinach and brussel sprouts. Lentils, liver and most beans are also rich in folic acid.

Daily requirement
The European Commission daily recommendation for folic acid or foliate is 200mcg for both men and women. The UK RDA is the same but in the United States the recommended daily intake for women is slightly lower at 180mg. Prior to and during preganancy, women are recommended to cosume at least double these RDA figures.

Deficiency
Folic acid deficiencies are increasingly common in the UK as we eat more processed foods and less fresh fruit and vegetables. A deficiency in folic acid can also be caused by alcohol abuse, certain medication or an underlying intestinal illness.

A folic deficiency will manifest itself in pale skin, tiredness, difficulty breathing, weight loss and anemia. Irritability and depression may also occur importance of folic acids to your central nervous system.

And as previously mentioned, a folic acid deficiency during pregnancy can lead to birth defects and miscarriage.

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