Folic acid (vitamin B9), together with vitamin B12, is necessary to form red blood cells. The form of folic acid occurring naturally in food is called ‘folate’. Folate is found naturally in a wide variety of foods and is also present in foods fortified with folic acid. Deficiency of folic acid can cause a type of anaemia (reduced oxygen-carrying ability of red blood cells) called ‘macrocytic’ (large cell) anaemia. Both vitamins together also help nerves to function properly are also essential for the formation of DNA (genetic material) allowing each cell to replicate perfectly.
As may recent researches have demonstrated, folic acid supplements can reduce high levels of homocysteine which is a blood protein that irritates blood vessels. This protein has been associated with increased risk of heart attack or stroke. Folic acid supplements are also recommended to pregnant women because it helps to protect an unborn baby from developing defects in his nerve system (neural tube defects), such as spina bifida.