Folic acid (vitamin B9): know when to take

Our body needs many nutrients to function fully. This includes several types of minerals (calcium, iron, potassium, etc.) and vitamins ( A , complex B , C , D ).

Each of these has a unique and indispensable function in the body. So, it is normal that, when presenting low levels of one or more nutrients, it is necessary a treatment for replacement – medicated or based on changes in eating habits.

In this sense, we have separated some information about one of these important nutrients for the human body (especially in pregnancy, hair loss, etc.): Folic Acid, or vitamin B9. Check out:


What is folic acid (vitamin B9)?

Folic acid (or vitamin B9) is part of the B complex and is a very important nutrient for our body, considering that it is directly related to the formation of new cells – which is especially important in pregnancy.

In this sense, this substance has a very important role in the production and maintenance of new cells. As well as in the maturation (evolution process) and formation of red and white blood cells in the bone marrow.

In addition, it is responsible for the maintenance of essential systems (immune, circulatory and nervous), as well as being indispensable for the synthesis of DNA and RNA.

Due to its action, it can bring numerous health benefits, such as preventing anemia and preventing the progression of some types of cancer . Still, it can even contribute to aesthetic factors – such as nail growth and the appearance of the skin.

As mentioned, vitamin B9 can be especially important during pregnancy. This is because it helps prevent malformation in the baby’s neural tube – a generic term that covers spinal cord malformation during the embryonic or fetal phase (such as anencephaly).

It is worth mentioning that pregnant women are predisposed to develop folate deficiency, due to the increased demand for this vitamin. Since it is essential for fetal growth and maternal tissues.

Other factors that can contribute to this deficiency are: inadequate diet, gestational physiological hemodilution and some hormonal influences.

In such cases, doctors usually recommend supplementation of this nutrient.

However, for those who simply want to maintain normal levels of folic acid, it is possible that this is done through eating habits. Considering that this vitamin is present in several foods (such as beans , fish, corn, etc.) and is abundant in green leaves.

It is important to know that supplements are a synthetic form of the vitamin, which has greater bioavailability (absorption). Considering that food absorption is more or less 50%, varying according to the type of cooking process.

What is it for in the body?

In general, Folic Acid acts in the body as responsible for the maintenance of the immune , circulatory and nervous systems . Thus, it acts mainly in the formation of some proteins and hemoglobin (it transports oxygen to the tissues), preventing anemia.

More specifically, it can contribute to the organism in the following aspects:

  • It benefits the brain – maintaining good levels of folic acid can prevent problems related to dementia and cognitive conditions (such as Alzheimer’s);
  • Helps to keep nails, skin and hair healthy – like all B vitamins, folic acid can help make the skin more luminous (with oil control) and boost the growth of nails and hair;
  • It can help prevent the progression of cancer – some studies also support the hypothesis that insufficient folic acid may be a risk factor for the occurrence of malignant tumors;
  • It can act as an adjunct in the treatment against depression – folic acid acts as a cofactor in the production of serotonin (hormone of happiness);
  • Necessary for the synthesis of DNA (responsible for storing the genetic information of living beings) and RNA (acts in the production of proteins).

It is worth mentioning that, as mentioned, folic acid has a direct relationship with the circulatory system. In this sense, it works in combination with vitamins B6 and B12 and reduces the levels of homocysteine ​​(an amino acid that when in excess affects the circulatory system and heart).

When this amino acid is elevated, there is a tendency for blood vessels to harden. Thus, raising blood pressure and increasing the risk of problems such as stroke (stroke).

Thus, folic acid can act preventively to these and other problems.

When is it necessary to take folic acid supplement?

In most cases, healthy people who maintain a balanced diet are unlikely to be deficient in just one of the B vitamins. Considering that, usually, an inadequate diet results in multiple vitamin deficiencies.

Therefore, it is often preferable to change eating habits instead of starting a treatment using supplementation – which should only be done with professional guidance.

However, there are some cases in which this type of treatment may be recommended:

  • Pregnancy;
  • Folate deficiency anemia;
  • Capillary fall;
  • Excess homocysteine ​​- amino acid present in blood plasma (is related to the onset of cardiovascular diseases).

Understand better why folic acid can be indicated in the following conditions:


In general, folic acid is indicated for all pregnant women. The ideal is to start using it even before pregnancy and keep it until the 12th week .

This vitamin is essential in this phase, considering that it strengthens the mother’s health and protects the baby against neural tube deficiencies .

However, it is worth noting that the neural tube develops in the first weeks of pregnancy, usually before the woman finds out she is pregnant. This causes some professionals to recommend folic acid supplementation for all women susceptible to becoming pregnant – considering that pregnancy often occurs in an unplanned way.

Remembering that it is very important to consult a doctor before using any supplement.

Hair loss

All B vitamins are very important for the health of the skin, nail and especially the hair. Especially folic acid (vitamin B9), can be essential for those who want to prevent or combat hair loss.

In general, this supplementation can reverse and prevent baldness caused by genetic factors, considering that it acts directly on the hair follicle.

Although all other vitamins in this complex have positive effects, without a doubt vitamin B9 is the nutrient that most stimulates hair growth. In addition, it also helps to avoid white hair, as it is responsible for the transport of melanin.

But, before using folic acid (or another substance), seek professional guidance.


Folic acid can be indicated for the treatment of hemolytic anemias : they are characterized by the difficulty of the bone marrow in producing red blood cells that are being destroyed ahead of time (which occurs for different reasons).

In addition, it can also be indicated to treat megaloblastic (non-harmful) anemias . These have their cause associated with erythrocytes (red blood cells).

In these cases, they are larger than normal, due to an incorrect division of the cytoplasm. This is due to the lack of necessary nutrients – usually vitamin B12 or vitamin B9 (folic acid).

In addition to varying the size, these red cells are also less resistant. Therefore, they tend to die before the expected time.

It is worth mentioning that megaloblastic anemias are a group that includes different types of this disease. However, folic acid is only indicated to treat those that are non-harmful .

What is possible to identify from laboratory tests requested by the doctor.

Excess homocysteine

Homocysteine ​​is an amino acid that is present in blood plasma. This substance is related to cardiovascular diseases, such as: stroke, coronary heart disease and infarction .

This occurs when your levels are too high, causing changes in your blood vessels.

This elevation can have different causes. But, in general, it is associated with genetic diseases, kidney problems, physical inactivity, smoking , etc.

In this sense, among the treatments that can be prescribed, the doctor may recommend supplementation with folic acid. Considering that this nutrient causes homocysteine ​​concentrations in the blood to decrease.

Does taking folic acid rejuvenate?

Vitamins are very important not only for the health of the body in general, but also contribute to factors that have an aesthetic relationship – such as the health of the skin and hair.

In the case of folic acid, it contributes especially to the transport of melanin. This substance is responsible for the pigmentation of the skin, hair, etc.

When it comes to hair and hair, folic acid can help to delay the appearance of white hair, considering that it maintains good levels of melanin. This can be an important factor for those who do not want, so soon, to see the signs of age.

Although this vitamin is also very beneficial for other functions, such as cell renewal (also important to prevent aging), it is not rejuvenating.

In general, it can be used to prevent certain signs of age, but by itself it will not reverse their appearance.

What can low folic acid cause?

Low levels of folic acid constitute what is called “folate deficiency”. This nutritional condition is usually associated with an inadequate diet.

However, it can also be associated with malabsorption of the substance. In addition to situations in which the person falls into some risk factor for this problem, which include:

  • Use of folate absorption inhibitors (such as anticonvulsants);
  • Cancer (leukemia, carcinoma and lymphoma);
  • Inflammatory diseases (Crohn’s disease, malaria, etc.);
  • Metabolic problems;
  • Patient requiring hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis.

Therefore, when the person has this folic acid deficiency, regardless of the source of the problem, it is possible that it causes symptoms such as:

  • Fatigue;
  • Depigmentation of the threads (white hair);
  • Canker sores;
  • Growth retardation;
  • Megaloblastic anemia (commonly causes pale skin, weakness, tiredness, etc.);
  • Neurological symptoms (numbness, irritability, depression, visual disturbances, etc.).

In addition, during pregnancy, the mother’s low levels of folic acid can cause problems in the baby’s neural tube.

What can excess folic acid cause?

In general, excess folic acid is rare, considering that it is a water-soluble vitamin. This factor facilitates the regulation of the substance by the body, considering that its excess can be easily eliminated through urine, for example.

Therefore, normally, when there is an excess of vitamin B9 in the body, this is linked to the use of supplements and not eating habits. When this occurs, it is common for the following symptoms to appear:

  • Stomachache;
  • Nausea;
  • Euphoria;
  • Excitement;
  • Hyperactivity;
  • Skin reactions (such as hives).

Thus, the need to always follow medical recommendations regarding daily dosages is reinforced.

This is necessary especially if you are pregnant. Because there are some studies that indicate that ingesting high levels of folic acid during pregnancy can harm the baby, even increasing the risks that the child will have autism .

The risk is linked to the fact that excess folic acid can harm the genes that make it help in the brain development process. As a result, malformation can occur – favoring the development of autism or partial autism.

Does taking folic acid make you fat?

No . Vitamins do not cause weight gain, meaning you will not put on weight when taking folic acid supplementation – especially considering that the dosage is very low.

In addition, nutrients are essential for the full functioning of the body and when they are at adequate levels we consequently have strengthened health. Which is an essential factor in maintaining a healthy weight.

Therefore, always be concerned with maintaining a balanced diet so that folic acid and other vitamins are always at adequate levels.

However, if you notice weight gain while using supplementation, seek professional help so that you can find the real source of the change.

How to take and what is the ideal amount of folic acid?

When indicated for pregnant women, the recommended dose of folic acid is usually 400mcg to 600mcg (micrograms) daily, but in some specific cases a variation may occur. In other types of treatment (such as hair loss), the dosage is established by the doctor as needed.

This, considering that there are versions available with concentration of the substance from 200mcg to higher levels.

As mentioned, medical guidance is essential for supplementation to be done correctly. However, in general, it is recommended to take approximately 30 minutes before a meal .

Thus, it facilitates the absorption of the substance, considering that it prevents it from mixing with food in the digestive process.

Why is it important to replace folic acid during pregnancy?

It is very common for pregnant women to have to use supplementation, both to take care of their health and to take care of the baby’s health.

Among the necessary supplements is the use of folic acid. As mentioned in a previous topic, this vitamin protects the baby against problems in the neural tube .

This includes malformations that involve the primitive structure that gives rise to the brain and spinal cord. Different forms can occur (anencephaly, meningocele, spina bifida, etc.), but all are serious and often incompatible with life.

All of this occurs in the first few weeks of pregnancy, usually before the woman finds out she is pregnant. Therefore, when planning to become pregnant, it is important to seek guidance from a professional.

That way, he / she will be able to analyze your health and recommend previous care. At this time, it is common to recommend the use of vitamin B9 supplementation – which can be recommended until the 12th week of pregnancy.

Thus, ensuring that the levels of the substance will be adequate already in the beginning of the pregnancy.

However, if the pregnancy occurs in an unplanned way (which is very common), seek professional assistance as soon as possible to avoid, as far as possible, any problems regarding the baby’s development.

Does the supplement help to get pregnant?

No . Taking folic acid is not something that can increase the chances of getting pregnant, many people have this idea because of the recommendation to use this supplement before pregnancy.

However, as mentioned, this indication is to prevent malformation of the baby. In addition to taking care of women’s health.

But, if you need to take folic acid supplementation for another reason, don’t worry as there is no way that it will increase your chances of getting pregnant.

What is the best folic acid for those who want to get pregnant?

There is no right folic acid, as it can vary greatly depending on the medical advice. This considering that the professional needs to take into account individual factors, then decide the dose and the correct product.

However, some medication options that act in the supplementation of this nutrient are:

  • Neo Folic ;
  • Folic Femme ;
  • Endofolin ;
  • Materfolic ;
  • Noripurum Folic .

It is worth mentioning that, although these (and other) medicines have a dosage of 5mg, this goes against the recommendation of the Ministry of Health, which indicates the dosage of 0.4mg daily.

Therefore, it is important to follow the indication of the doctor responsible for your follow-up. This applies both to those who wish to become pregnant and to women who are already pregnant.

Until when to take folic acid?

If you are taking folic acid as a preventive care before becoming pregnant, it is common for the doctor to recommend maintaining supplementation until the 12th gestation. Whereas it is important to prevent malformation in the baby’s nervous system.

However, the replacement of this nutrient can also be indicated for other cases (hair loss, anemia, etc.). In these situations, the treatment time varies according to each case.

Therefore, always follow professional guidelines to ensure effectiveness.

Folic acid tablet: can you take it every day?

-Yeah . When the use of folic acid supplementation is necessary, administration is done daily for the period determined by the doctor.

As mentioned, this is especially true for women who are pregnant or intend to become pregnant, in order to avoid complications for the baby.

However, if you need to replace the levels of this nutrient for another reason, it is also common that daily administration is necessary – usually for a shorter period, when compared to that of pregnant women.

Whatever your case, be sure to follow professional recommendations to ensure safe and effective use of folic acid supplementation.

Can man take vitamin B9?

-Yeah . Folic acid is an essential nutrient for all human beings, considering that it is involved in essential processes – such as the formation of new cells, to prevent cardiovascular problems, etc.

It is worth mentioning that, with regard to male fertility, folic acid also plays an important role.

Just as women need to take care of their health when they want to become pregnant and, among other things, maintain good levels of folic acid, so do parents.

This nutrient reduces the risk of chromosomal changes in sperm. Which, when it occurs, can cause problems in the embryos, making pregnancy difficult.

What are the side effects of folic acid?

Folic acid does not cause side effects when absorbed through food. However, from the supplementation of this nutrient, adverse reactions may arise (especially if it exceeds the recommended dose). The most common is that gastrointestinal disorders occur.

In this sense, side effects can include symptoms such as nausea, bloating, flatulence and allergic reactions – such as erythema, itching and hives.

In addition, exceeding the dose of 15mg daily can cause changes in the CNS (central nervous system), such as disturbed sleep and irritability.

Does folic acid make you hungry?

Some people may experience more hunger from the use of folic acid. However, this is not related to any side effects of this substance.

In fact, when the body has all the vitamins at adequate levels, the person tends to be more hungry than when he is deficient in some nutrient. Which applies to both folic acid and other vitamins.

However, if you experience a drastic change in appetite when supplementing with folic acid, seek medical help to find out if the change is (or is not) related to this.

Food source of folic acid

As mentioned, folic acid can be absorbed naturally through a balanced diet. For this, there are some foods that are rich in this nutrient that should be part of the diet.

Green leaves are the most suitable foods to boost your diet with vitamin B9, but in addition there are:

  • Ox liver – in the 100g portion, there is a little more than 200mcg of folic acid;
  • Brewer’s yeast – in just 16g there can be more than 600mcg of folic acid;
  • Legumes (lentils, beans, chickpeas) – contain on average slightly less than 200mcg of folic acid per 100g portion;
  • Peanuts – a 70g serving has an average of 90mcg of folic acid.

Therefore, including these foods in your routine can go a long way in maintaining good levels of folic acid – in addition to other nutrients.

It is worth noting, however, that vegetables are the largest source of folate in the diet. Especially the dark green leafy ones (spinach, kale, basil , chicory, broccoli leaf, etc.).

Does cooking food improve the use of folic acid by the body?

No . In general, all raw food tends to have its nutrients preserved in order to be better absorbed by the body.

Considering that folic acid is a water-soluble vitamin (soluble in water), when cooking food in water, they lose much of the concentration of this nutrient.

Therefore, the ideal is to opt for other methods of preparation, such as steam cooking or raw consumption.

Folic acid is a very important vitamin for the full functioning of the body, in addition to contributing as a preventive care during pregnancy. However, to make use of your supplementation, be sure to seek professional guidance.