Vitamin B-11 is a member of the B complex family of vitamins. Sometimes referred to as vitamin S or S factor, B-11 is also considerate a folate (like B- 9) and is a derivative of B-9. Folate and folic acid derive their names from the Latin word folium(which means "leaf"). Green leafy vegetables are a primary source of this nutrient, however, in Western diets bread and cereals fortified with folate may be a larger dietary source. An argument can be (and has been) made that enriched sources (bread and cereal) may not provide the absorption levels from leaf vegetables and in fact, be of no help at all. This is in part because of the other chemicals(namely bromine) used in the process of making bread and cereal. Bromine competes with other vitamins and minerals in absorption.
A lack of folic acid leads to folate deficiency, an uncommon condition in the normal American diet. A complete lack of dietary folate takes months before deficiency develops. Most individuals have about 500–20,000 µg of folate stored in the body. It is not that uncommon to have depleted or less than optimal levels within the body for a variety of reasons, eating breads and cereals and no green leafy vegetables is only one of many. Stress, (whether from work, home, air pollution, or illness) also depletes stores of this nutrient. Any type of gut or intestinal illness (IBS, IBD, GERD, diarrhea, constipation, yeast infections, and parasites) blocks the manufacturing and absorption of B-11.
A less than optimal level may result in many health problems, the most notable one being neural tube defects in developing embryos. Symptoms of folate deficiency include diarrhea, anemia with a shortness of breath and/or weakness, lack of appetite, nerve damage, numbness and weakness in the limbs, lower immunity, fatigue, pregnancy complications, mental confusion, forgetfulness or other cognitive declines, depression, sore or swollen tongue, peptic or mouth ulcers, headaches, heart palpitations, irritability, behavioral disorders, and weight loss. Low levels of folate can also lead to impaired DNA synthesis and repair which could eventually lead to formation of cancers and homocysteine accumulation. Homocysteine,though a natural substance made by the body, is thought to irritate the lining of the blood vessels causing them to become scarred, hardened, and narrowed.This increases the work the heart must do, leading to heart disease. High levels of homocysteine levels also cause increased blood clotting. Folate is required in the synthesis and breakdown of homocysteine.
The benefits of adequate levels of B-11 are enormous. Vitamin B-11, combined with B-12, is involved in the formation of RNA and DNA. B-11 is essential for growth and in forming tissue, in developing the brain, is essential for the development of the fetus nervous system and the spinal marrow of the fetus, is essential for cell division, reduces the risk of cardiac functions, is essential for the re-methylation of homocysteine, it plays a very essential role in the immune system and in blood production.
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