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Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid): What runners should know about Vitamin B9 and Oxygen-Rich Red Blood Cells

Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid) helps create healthy red blood cells --- critical for carrying oxygen to muscles throughout the body. 

Vitamin B9, also know as Folic Acid/Folate, is a water soluble vitamin of the B-complex. Folate is naturally present in a wide variety of foods, including vegetables (especially dark green leafy vegetables), fruits and fruit juices, nuts, beans, peas, seafood, eggs, dairy products, meat, poultry, and grains. Spinach, liver, asparagus, and brussels sprouts are among the foods with the highest folate levels.[1] Grains are a common source because - at least in the U.S. - grains are fortified with Vitamin Bs. 

Like all Vitamin B's, Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid) is involved in the energy production system of the body. Vitamin B9 supports the development of healthy cells (muscle, red blood, etc.) by providing key ingredients for DNA replication. 

The molecule of Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid) has the ability to bond and carry one carbon atoms (e.g. methyl -CH3) groups to other chemical reactions. Perhaps the most important of these reactions is the replication of DNA. 

Sufficient amount of Folic Acid is required for healthy, "normal" DNA replication. In the case of red blood cells, a deficiency in Folic Acid causes incomplete cellular division and underdeveloped red blood cells --- a form of anemia. Adequate concentrations of Folic Acid are required for healthy red blood cell creation. 

Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid) is an important vitamin for runners for several reasons:

  • Aerobic Running - Folic acid is necessary for the creation of healthy red blood cells that carry oxygen to muscles throughout the body. The higher concentration of red blood cells, the easier your body can transport oxygen for aerobic running at increased speed. 
  • Healthy Cells - Folic acid is essential for DNA replication for nearly all cells in the body. This includes muscle, brain, white blood, and red blood cells. The body is continually renewing itself, especially in runners that are working their bodies for growth. Having sufficient Vitamin B9/Folic acid helps support healthy creation of new cells throughout the body. 
    • Efficient Energy – Efficient energy production is important to you as a runner. The better the body can convert carbohydrates and sugar to ATP across a range of running paces, the more energy that will be available to you as a runner. A healthy concentration of oxygen-rich red blood cells enables more efficient energy production.   

    Best wishes chasing your running goals!

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