Folic acid was initially distinguished from vitamin B12 as a dietary anti-anemia factor by Wills in the 1930s. The subsequent chemical isolation of folic acid and the identification of its role as a cofactor in one-carbon metabolism led to the elucidation of deficiency diseases at the molecular level. The term 'folate' encompasses the entire group of folate vitamin forms, comprising the naturally occurring folylpolyglutamates found in food and folic acid (pteroylglutamic acid), the synthetic form of the vitamin added as a dietary supplement to foodstuffs. 'Folate' is thus the general term used for any form of the vitamin irrespective of the state of reduction, type of substitution, or degree of polyglutamylation.

Folate functions metabolically as an enzyme cofactor in the synthesis of nucleic acids and amino-acids. Deficiency of the vitamin leads to impaired cell replication and other metabolic alterations, particularly related to methionine synthesis. The similar clinical manifestations of cobalamin deficiency and folate deficiency underline the metabolic interrelationship between the two vitamins. Folate deficiency, manifested clinically as megalo-blastic anemia, is the most common vitamin deficiency in developed countries. Much attention has focused recently on a number of diseases for which the risks are inversely related to folate status even within the range of blood indicators previously considered 'normal.' Food-fortification programs introduced to prevent neural-tube defects (NTD) have proved effective in increasing folate intakes in populations and may be shown potentially to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Your Heart and Nutrition

Your Heart and Nutrition

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