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Why do I need folic acid as a teen?

Teenagers need the B vitamin folate -- or folic acid, the synthetic form of the vitamin -- for a number of reasons. These are:
  • to help with the growth of new cells. During the teen years your body goes through growth spurts in which new cells are made. Folate helps with this process.
  • to prevent anemia. A shortage of folate can cause this condition, which is a lack of red blood cells.
  • to help prevent birth defects if you get pregnant. Folic acid is crucial in preventing birth defects of the spine and brain, so all women who have reached puberty and could possibly become pregnant are advised to get enough folic acid, even if they're not planning to have a baby.
Many foods, especially breakfast cereals, bread and grains are fortified with folic acid. You can also take it in a supplement.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.