What is folic acid?

Folic acid

One of the most important substances that must be present in the human body are vitamins . These are a type of organic substance that are found in small proportions in food but are essential to achieve a development of the functions and organs of the human body. One of these essential vitamins is folic acid , a vitamin that plays a key role in the prevention of defects of type birth .

Folic acid What is it, characteristics, properties, benefits, risks 

What is folic acid?

Folic acid is a fundamental vitamin for the proper formation of blood cells . It is a vitamin that belongs to the B complex essential for development , growth and to reduce possible defects of the brain and spine in fetuses.

  • Folic acid characteristics
  • Structure
  • Formula
  • Nomenclature
  • Physical properties of folic acid
  • Chemical properties
  • Obtaining
  • What is it for
  • Foods with folic acid
  • Benefits of folic acid
  • Importance in pregnancy
  • Are you fattening?
  • Risks

Folic acid characteristics

Folic acid was discovered in 1928 thanks to L. Willis who discovered the existence of a hematopoietic factor present in yeasts that had the ability to cure macrolytic anemia . In its beginnings it was known as the Willis Factor but in 1941 its name changed to folic acid . Among the main characteristics that can be found in folic acid, the following are mentioned:

  • It is also known by the name of vitamin B9 , folacin or folate .
  • It is absorbed in the small intestine before being transported through the flow blood to the rest of the tissues and organs of the body.
  • Being sensitive to light and heat , its properties can be considerably reduced when subjected to cooking.
  • Its ingestion can produce a series of side effects in some people such as irritability, nausea, confusion, altered sleep patterns and a bad taste in the mouth.
  • The excess of folic acid in the body are disposed through the urine .
  • It can lead to interactions with barbiturate drugs , pyrimethamine and anticonvulsants.


The structure of folic acid is based on pteroylglutamic acid which is a type of molecule that is composed of a ptridine ring which is linked through a methylene bridge to a para-aminobenzoic acid , which then binds to through an amide bond to a glutamic residue . Its structure is then made up of three different parts, the nitrogenous heterocyclic ring and two simple substituents which are oxo and amino . The following drawing shows the structure of folic acid.

Folic acid What is it, characteristics, properties, benefits, risks


The general formula for folic acid is as follows:

C19 H19 N7 O6


The nomenclature of folic acid is: (2S) -2 – [(4 – {[(2-amino-4-hydroxypteridin-6-yl) methyl] amino} phenyl) formamide] pentanedioic acid. It can also be called vitamin B9, folates and folacin.

Physical properties of folic acid

Among the main physical properties of folic acid we find the following:

  • It is sensitive to light and extreme changes in pH .
  • It has the appearance of a powder of yellowish / orange .
  • It has no flavor whatsoever .
  • Its chemical structure is made up of three parts: a nitrogenous ring , two simple substituents and an amino .

Chemical properties

The following are chemical properties of folic acid:

  • Folic acid has a molecular mass of 441.4.
  • It is only slightly soluble in water when it is in its acid form.
  • It can oxidize very easily when in solution .
  • It has an acidity of 8 .3 pKa.
  • Its melting point is 250 ° C.
  • It has a molecular formula of C19H19N7O6 .


This type of acid can be obtained through food since there are several products that contain it in adequate doses. It can also be of synthetic origin , in other words, it can be created within a laboratory . Folic acid can also be obtained from foods that are fortified as in the case of some types of cereals and in corn flour.

What is it for?

Folic acid is a very important vitamin for the body as it helps tissues to grow as well as cell work . They manage to improve the function of the human body to break down, use and create new proteins in addition to intervening in the formation of red blood cells , which can prevent problems related to anemia .

Another of its very important uses is its participation in the production of DNA , which turns out to be the fundamental pillar for the passage of genetic information . This type of vitamin must be consumed by all women who are in age reproductive , whether or not in a state of pregnancy, it is an excellent way to produce new cells.

Foods with folic acid

Folic acid can be easily obtained from some of the foods you eat every day. These types of foods are mainly vegetables and vegetables that have their green leaves such as asparagus , broccoli , avocado , chard , spinach and in some fruits such as oranges and almonds. The soybean , the mushrooms , the coconut and blackberries are important sources of folate.

Benefits of folic acid

Many are the benefits that can be obtained through the adequate consumption of folic acid, among them the following are mentioned:

  • Helps tissues grow and develop properly.
  • Participates in the creation of new proteins together with vitamin B12.
  • Helps in the formation of red blood cells.
  • It prevents the appearance of arterial hypertension.
  • Reduces malformations in fetuses when women are pregnant.
  • It reduces the risk of suffering from heart disease .
  • A diet rich in folic acid can reduce levels of stress , fatigue, and depression .
  • Helps the liver to properly regulate histamine levels in the human body.

Importance in pregnancy

One of the most important drugs that should be consumed by women when they are pregnant is folic acid. Mainly during the first three months of pregnancy , folic acid is essential for the baby’s nervous system to develop properly, as well as being part of the proper development of cells and red blood cells. It also intervenes in the formation of the neural tube and helps prevent some defects that could occur in the development of the fetus, such as anencephaly and spina bifida. serious health problems in babies.

Are you fattening?

Folic acid is not a vitamin that makes you fat by itself, however, it can sometimes lead to an increase in the feeling of hunger and, if the person who consumes it does not take care of their diet, it can indirectly generate an increase in the weight.


Some of the most common risks that can occur from excessive folic acid intake include the following:

  • blockage in the proper absorption of zinc can occur which could lead to a masking of vitamin B12 deficiency .
  • When it interacts with medicines used to prevent seizures , it can have the opposite effect by causing them to occur more frequently.
  • Some studies claim that consuming it in an uncontrolled and excessive way during the pregnancy period can cause problems related to autism .
  • Taking folic acid with methotrexate, a medicine used to treat cancer, could interfere with its effectiveness .

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