USES:Folic acid is necessary for cell replication including neural tube development, so it helps prevent spina bifida during foetal development.
Folic acid also plays an important role in red blood cell production and cancer prevention, especially colon and cervical cancer, via DNA synthesis, repair and methylation that controls gene expression.
Folic acid deficiency may present symptoms such as infertility, miscarriages, spina bifida, depression, confusion, poor memory, fatigue and certain anaemias.
Alcohol abuse impairs folic acid absorption as do certain conditions (coeliac disease) that reduce nutrient absorption in the intestine.
Foods containing high levels of folic acid include wheat germ, legumes, avocado, green leafy vegetables: kale, endive, turnip tops, cabbage, and spinach, broccoli and liver.
Nuts such as almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts also contain good levels of folic acid as do seeds such as sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds.
Fortified breakfast cereals and some breads contain folic acid although they may also be high in refined sugars and additives and preservatives.
Folic acid is water soluble so it is best to steam rather than boil your vegetables to avoid it leaching into the cooking water. Also, it cannot be stored by our bodies so we need to eat foods containing this vitamin every day.