FOLIC ACID plays a vital role in nucleic acid metabolism, the conversion of homocysteine back to methionine with the help of Vit B12, and synthesis of SAM (S-adenosyl-methionine) for the methylation of DNA. Thus, folic acid greatly influences cell growth and fetal development, particularly central nervous system of the fetus.
Pregnant women, as well as women planning on becoming pregnant, are advised by health professionals to supplement their diet with folic acid to promote healthy fetal development.
Furthermore, there’s a great and rapid cell turnover in the lining of the intestinal tract — from the mouth to the anus –, as well as the lungs, and blood (red blood cells). During times of infectious illness, as well as physical injury, the body uses up large numbers of white blood cells and cells for tissue repair.
Folic acid deficiency during pregnancy may cause spina bifida in the fetus. Spina bifida, also called myelomeningocele, is a neural tube developmental defect resulting in incomplete development of one vertebra, or two neighboring vertebrae, allowing the spinal cord (covered by the meninges) to protrude through the vertebral column and skin. Spina bifida occulta, the mildest form of spina bifida, has the vertebral defect. However, the skin overlying the defect is intact; i.e. the spinal cord does not protrude through it.
Folic acid deficiency may also manifest as anemia, fatigue, weakness, increased susceptibility to infections (weakened immune system), impaired digestion, sore tongue, diarrhea, inflammation of the digestive tract, weight loss, and lack of, or lessened, appetite.
Because folic acid is so involved in DNA synthesis and the development/health of the central nervous system (CNS), a deficiency in this nutrient may result in irritability, anxiety, depression, and aggression.