Gershoff, Stanley N. Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts.
Last reviewed:January 2021
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A yellow vitamin, slightly soluble in water, which is usually found in conjugates containing varying numbers of glutamic acid residues. Folic acid (C19H19N7O6; see illustration) belongs to the B family of vitamins. Also known as pteroylglutamic acid (PGA) or folate, folic acid is particularly significant for the health of the human fetus because it is required for proper formation of the neural tube, thereby preventing brain and spinal birth defects. In addition, because folic acid helps in the formation and growth of red blood cells, it prevents folate-deficiency anemia (a pregnancy-related anemia) in the pregnant mother. See also: Anemia; Congenital anomalies; Neurulation; Pregnancy; Vitamin
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