zig
0

Notifications

  • You're all caught up!

Folic Acid & Metabolism

by
author image Matthew Fox, MD
Dr. Matthew Fox graduated from the University of California with a Bachelor of Arts in molecular, cell and developmental biology and received a M.D. from the University of Virginia. He is a pathologist and has experience in internal medicine and cancer research.
Folic Acid & Metabolism
Green leafy vegetables are high in folic acid. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

Folic acid is also known as vitamin B-9. It is a water-soluble vitamin necessary for normal metabolism. Metabolism describes how chemicals are changed in the body. Two branches of metabolism include the breakdown, or catabolism, and building, or anabolism, of chemicals. Folic acid helps some of these chemical reactions take place.

Co-enzymes

Since metabolism involves processing chemicals, with the input or release of energy, something must be making these changes. Enzymes are special proteins that act like little machines to increase the speed of chemical reactions. Folic acid and many other vitamins help by binding to specific enzymes and allowing them to work.

DNA Metabolism

Folic acid helps the enzymes in cells to synthesize, repair and regulate DNA. DNA is made of four chemical bases that form its code: the purines called guanine and adenine and the pyrimidines thymine and cytosine. Folic acid helps synthesize the first three. In addition, folic acid helps to transfer one-carbon molecules called methyl groups onto the DNA. When these methyl groups are added to a particular portion of DNA, that DNA is no longer used by the cell. In this way, folic acid helps regulate the expression of DNA.

You Might Also Like

Amino Acid Metabolism

Amino acids are linked together to form proteins. The synthesis of the amino acid methionine requires folic acid and vitamin B-12. Methionine is synthesized from homocysteine, and a deficiency of folic acid can lead to excessive amounts of homocysteine, which can cause health problems.

Deficiency

A deficiency of folic acid interferes with metabolic processes, causing problems in the body. For example, low folic acid can decrease red blood cells, causing anemia. The decreased ability of the body to metabolize DNA interferes with the development of rapidly dividing cells, such as those in the bone marrow responsible for making red blood cells. In addition, a deficiency of folic acid can cause birth defects, by inhibiting metabolic processes.

Related Searches

LiveStrong Calorie Tracker
THE LIVESTRONG.COM MyPlate Nutrition, Workouts & Tips
GOAL
  • Gain 2 pounds per week
  • Gain 1.5 pounds per week
  • Gain 1 pound per week
  • Gain 0.5 pound per week
  • Maintain my current weight
  • Lose 0.5 pound per week
  • Lose 1 pound per week
  • Lose 1.5 pounds per week
  • Lose 2 pounds per week
GENDER
  • Female
  • Male
lbs.
ft. in.

References

  • "Robbins and Cotran Pathologic Basis of Disease"; Vinay Kumar, et al.; 8th Ed 2009
  • "Nutrition Concepts and Controversies"; Frances Sizer, et al.; 11th Ed 2007
  • "Lehninger Principles of Biochemistry"; David L. Nelson, et al.; 4th Ed 2004
Demand Media