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Folate, also known as vitamin B9 is found naturally occurring in foods. Folic acid is something that is synthetically produced and found to be present in supplements or in foods that are fortified. Folate usually used to describe both the versions. Being water soluble, folate is quick to dissolve in water in the body and on ingestion, apart from the portion that is absorbed into the body; the rest is passed out through urine. Therefore, the body constantly needs refilling of folate stores.

Why do you need Folate?

Folate serves several important functions in the body which include, DNA and red blood cell formation, prevention of anemia, prevention against heart disease, birth defects and importantly, prevents against neural tube defects in fetuses.

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Like all of the B complex vitamins, B9 or Folate also helps in conversion of carbohydrates to glucose and optimizes the body’s usage of fat and protein.  Folate is necessary for the maintenance of brain, heart, nervous system and skin health. This is the reason why folate is particularly emphasized upon during periods of rapid growth and developments like pregnancy, infancy and adolescence.

Other than that, B vitamins, along with folic acid, are best for hair care since they facilitate the transport of hemoglobin. How healthy or strong the hair is depends on the consistent supply of oxygen and blood to hair and scalp. This is where folic acid helps in maintaining the thickness and colour of hair.

Iron deficiency has been known to be one of the causes of hairfall and poor hair health. The best way to tackle this is by including iron-rich and vitamin B9 rich foods in the diet like legumes and pulses, lean meat, eggs, green leafy vegetables, nuts, etc. Excess amounts of hair loss can also be taken care of by taking supplemental support of iron and folate and B12. A dosage of 400 mcg for men and 200 mcg for women for the prevention of hair loss is advisable.

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The RDA for folate depends on age and gender, among other things. The amount generally increases according to age, although women of childbearing age have the highest requirement levels. Children between 1-3 years should get around 150 mcg per day. This goes up to 200 mcg between the ages of 4 and 8, 300 mcg between the ages of 9 and 13, and 400 mcg from 14 onwards. Pregnant and lactating women should up this amount to 600 mcg per day.

Takeaway note:

Folate is an essential nutrient that you can get most of from your diet alone. Folic acid, on the other hand is a synthetic version that gets used in supplements. While deficiencies of folate are rare, however pregnant women, infants and adolescents must ensure that they get the right amount to avoid severe outcomes of deficiencies.



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