Folic Acid - The Occurrence and the Role in Human Nutrition
Folic acid occurs naturally in the salt form of folic acid - the so-called folate. The human body cannot synthesize it, and therefore it must be supplied from outside. Folic acid is involved in the synthesis and proper functioning of RNA and DNA acids. It is essential for growth and division of all body cells, which is particularly important during active growth or in the fetal and newborn life. In children and adults, folate along with vitamin B12 are involved in the production of red blood cells. Current research indicate on the existence in Poland and in Central and Northern Europe of significant deficiencies of folic acid in the diet.
Deficiency of folic acid in our diet is due to the fact that we consume more highly processed food. Stored and heat-treated food loses a large part of folates. The most common pathological processes associated with a deficiency of folic acid in the body are neural tube defects, megaloblastic anaemia, disturbances in the functioning of the nervous and cardiovascular system, as well as the development of certain types of cancer. Effective methods to increase folate intake are still being searched for.