Folic acid

Author: Prof. Dr. med. Peter Altmeyer

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Last updated on: 29.10.2020

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(2S)-2-[(4-[(2-Amino-4-oxo-1H-pteridin-6-yl)methylamino]benzoyl)amino]; acidum folicum; CAS number: 59-30-0; folic acid (INCI); L-Folic acid; Pentanedioic acid; Pteroylglutamic acid; pteroylglutaminic acid; Pteroyl mono-glutamic acid; vitamin B11; vitamin B9; vitamin M

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Folic acid (lat. folium= leaf, after the occurrence of folic acid in green leaves), is a water-insoluble, in organic solvents easily soluble, tasteless, orange-yellow, photosensitive powder, a vitamin of the vitamin B complex. A folic acid deficiency causes weak growth and various forms of anaemia.

Note: Folic acid was formerly classified as a vitamin B2 complex.

General information
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Folic acid is present in very low concentrations in every cell. The biologically active form is tetrahydrofolic acid, which as a coenzyme, e.g. as 5-formyltetrahydrofolic acid (folinic acid) formerly also known as citrovorum factor, is involved in the transfer of C1 fragments (methyl, methylene and formyl groups).

Folic acid is found preferentially in wheat germ, beans, yeast, asparagus, dark leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale; also in nuts, beef liver, fish and egg yolk. Folic acid is also produced in microorganisms in the large intestine.

As a deficiency symptom, it causes disturbances in blood formation in humans as well as in higher animals. Important symptoms of deficiency are the inability to synthesize purines and the pyrimidine derivative thymine.

Cosmetic applications of folic acid via topical applications in ointments, creams or solutions are not recommended as no positive effects are to be expected from these application methods.

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Daily requirement: The daily requirement of folic acid is 0.5-1.0mg.

Standard value: The standard value in serum is between 7 and 36 nmol/l.

Pathologically reduced: pregnancy, alcoholism, tapeworm infestation, folic acid antagonists, malassimilation syndrome, congenital disorders of folate metabolism, folate malabsorption, macrocytic anaemia

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  1. Burger A et al (1993) Hunnius Pharmaceutical Dictionary 7th Edition Walter de Gruyter Berlin-New York p. 1488


Last updated on: 29.10.2020