There are numerous B Vitamins. B9, folic acid (or folate) is just one of those. It helps the body produce new cells. Folic Acid has numerous functions within the body including working with vitamin B12 to form healthy red blood cells and helping to reduce the risk of spinal defects such as spina bifida in foetuses.
On a daily basis adults should be taking 0.2mg of folic acid a day. As it cannot be stored in the body it needs to be taken daily.
You can obtain folic acid from a varied diet as it can be found in foods such as dried beans, peas, nuts, leafy green vegetables and fruits. Enriched breads, cereals and other grain products are also fortified with folic acid.
If you are pregnant however or thinking about trying, it is recommended that taking a 0.4mg (400 microgram) folic acid supplement daily, from when you stop using contraception until the 12th week of pregnancy, to help prevent birth defects of the spine, such as spina bifida, in your baby.
Consuming enough folic acid is important for a healthy body and if you become deficient, you may experience health problems such as folate-deficiency anaemia, a condition whereby the lack of folate leads to less red blood cells being produced. If you do not have enough healthy blood cells to transport oxygen to the body the results can include headache, fatigue, pale skin, and even poor concentration. So if you suffer from this, see your GP for advice of foods you should be eating to help or supplementation.