Vitamin B9 belongs to the large and diverse group of B vitamins.
This water-soluble vitamin is produced naturally by the body but only in small amounts. It therefore needs to be obtained from the diet too, or from supplementation.
Vitamin B9 plays an active part in many of the body’s functions. In particular, it supports healthy blood production, especially red blood cells. Indeed, deficiency in folic acid results in abnormalities in red blood cell development (1).
It is also involved in the synthesis of amino acids (2). In addition, folic acid supports the conversion of homocysteine, in combination with a specific enzyme. Excess levels of the amino acid homocysteine is damaging to health (increasing the risk of cardiovascular and neurological problems) (3-4).
Vitamin B9 has a recognized role in maintaining good psychological function. A lack of folic acid may increase irritability, difficulty in concentrating and headaches...
It is also invaluable in helping to combat fatigue.
The reason folic acid is so important before and during pregnancy is the crucial role it plays in cell division. It’s thought vitamin B9 helps to increase red blood cells in expectant mothers, and support healthy placenta formation and growth of the baby.
Vitamin B9 also encourages the natural growth of maternal tissue during pregnancy, namely the uterus and breasts.
Lastly, supplementing with folic acid reduces the risk of neural tube defects in the baby.
Deficiency in vitamin B9 destabilises the cell cycle: this can be seen in immune cells. A lack of folic acid prevents the growth and circulation of T lymphocytes.
These leukocytes or white cells are responsible for cellular immunity: they destroy infected cells. A fall in lymphocyte numbers can be reversed by regulating the body’s folic acid levels (5).
Vitamin B9 is found in many foods:
Vitamin B9 supplementation is recommended in cases of deficiency or in women trying to conceive. Be sure to seek guidance from your doctor. Good supplement choices include SuperFolate, which contains a form of folate that’s particularly well-absorbed by the body.
For a broader B vitamin intake, you could try Coenzymated B Formula, a complex that contains the complete range of B vitamins in their co-enzymated form.