What is VItamin B9?
Vitamin B9 (folic acid or folate) is a water soluble essential vitamin that, like the rest of the B vitamins, can’t be made in the body. B9 is a precursor, in that it is converted in the body to produce chemicals that are vital for cell functioning and foetal development.
Vitamin B9 is naturally found in dark green leafy vegetables, but also in a wide variety of other foods, such as meat and dairy products, seafood, grains, brussel sprouts and asparagus.
What does it do?
Once absorbed the Vitamin B9 molecules become ‘cofactors’. Cofactors help enzymes – the catalysts that make things happen in the cells – to produce, repair and replicate DNA, RNA and amino acids. This is particularly useful for cell division, where the all genetic material has to be copied, checked, repaired, and split apart. B9 is also essential for fertility in both men and women.
If B9 is in a cream, as it is often is, it has difficulty passing across the skin barrier into the body. This is because – like the rest of the B vitamins – it is water soluble, and the outermost layer of skin is made up of oily dead cells and fatty deposits in a brick-and-mortar-like structure. If the vitamin is taken orally, the gut does a good job of absorbing it and spreading it around the body.
That said, topically applied B9 has been shown in some instances to help sun-damaged skin to regenerate the collagen network required for firmness. The best results have been found when B9 is used in combination with creatine, a biochemical that provides short term energy to cells, and is not a common ingredient in skin care products.
Deficiencies of B9 can cause a loss of appetite, weakness, headaches, heart palpitations, and some behavioural disorders. Studies have shown B9 and B12 deficiencies have been linked to depression, due to the synthesis of various neurotransmitters (chemicals that transmit information between nerves) which rely heavily on these vitamins.
There is no upper tolerable limit for B9, because of the body’s ability to remove it in urine.
Vitamin B9 is known commonly as folic acid or folate.