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Folic Acid
Recommended daily allowance: 400 mcg (micrograms)

Symptoms of deficiency: Sore, red tongue. Mild mental symptoms, such as forgetfulness and confusion. Hemolytic and megaloblastic anemia in which red blood cells are large and uneven in size, have a shorter life span or are likely to have cell membranes rupture.

Benefits: May prevent heart disease. Promotes normal red-blood-cell formation. Regulates fetal development of nerve cells. Maintains nervous system, intestinal tract, sex organs, white blood cells, normal patterns of growth. Treats anemias due to folic-acid deficiency occurring from alcoholism, liver disease, hemolytic anemia, sprue, pregnancy, breast feeding, and oral contraceptive use.

Good food sources: Oranges, orange juice, rice, soybeans, wheat germ, fruits, beans, leafy vegetables, beans, cereals.

Cautions: Don't take if you have pernicious anemia or take anti-convulsant medication.

Substance interactions: Decreases the effects of folic acid: analgesics, anti-convulsants, chloramphenicol, cortisone drugs, methotrexate, oral contraceptives, quinine, sulfa drugs, trimethoprim, trimterene. Folic acid decreases the effect of these prescription drugs: phenytoin and pyrimethamine.

Signs of toxicity: Very low toxicity.

* Women of childbearing age should take a daily multivitamin containing 400 mcg. Pregnant women should get 800 mcg.

* Folic acid may help in the prevention and treatment of cervical dysplasia (precancerous cells in the cervix). Women with this condition usually have low levels of folate.

* Folate deficiency may be partially responsible for restless legs syndrome.

* It reduces the body's levels of homocysteine, an artery-damaging chemical that accumulates in the blood of people who eat meat, and may prevent heart disease and strokes.

* May also prevent cancers of the lung and colon.

* Increase the folate in the diet if you use any of the following: alcohol, tobacco, aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, oral contraceptives, pancreatic extracts, estrogen, antacids, arthritis drugs such as methotrexate and medications prescribed for convulsions, malaria and bacterial infections. Also if over 55 years of age, undergoing renal dialysis, suffering from an
illness or recovering from surgery.

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