5. Vitamin B9
Vitamin B9 is also known as folate, one of the essential vitamins that help with DNA and RNA synthesis, which is important during periods of rapid growth like puberty and pregnancy. Folate also helps control homocysteine levels. When these are too high it can lead to a number of chronic conditions like heart disease, depression, diabetes, and cancer.
Is there a difference between folate and folic acid? While the two are interchangeable they are different. Folate occurs in various chemical forms is found in food and the body. Folic acid, on the other hand, is the synthetic form of vitamin B9 and has no physiological activity unless it’s converted into folates.
Studies have shown that a diet high in folate-rich foods can help prevent serious health conditions including cancer, heart disease, birth defects, anemia and cognitive decline. As with all the B vitamins, a deficiency is fairly rare but for people who are B9 deficient could experience poor immune function, chronic low energy, developmental problems during pregnancy, anemia, sores in the mouth, a swollen tongue, constipation, bloating, IBS, pale skin, changes in mood, premature hair graying and aging.
Pregnant women, women wanting to fall pregnant, breastfeeding mothers, excessive drinkers, anyone on dialysis, with liver disease, and those taking medication for diabetes face a higher risk of being folate deficient and should take care to ensure they’re getting enough from their natural diet. The best way to make sure you’re getting enough folate is to eat five or more servings of whole foods like fruit and vegetables on a daily basis. Green vegetables, leafy greens, orange juice, asparagus, melons, fortified grains, legumes, beans, eggs, and strawberries are the best food options for vitamin B9. It is also found in some animal products like liver and poultry.