Folic acid is involved in the development of the tissues of the nervous system. A deficiency causes malformation (such as spina bifida) in the fetus. Folic acid supplementation in gestating bitches appears to have a very beneficial effect on reducing the incidence of cleft pallet in newborn puppies. Folic acid also has a preventive role with respect to anaemic problems.
Discovered in the middle of last century, folic acid is a water-soluble vitamin stored in the animal’s liver. For some years now, it has been better known as vitamin B9, but folates used to be called vitamin M or vitamin Bc or L. casei factor.
Folic acid is a group B vitamin that is essential for fast cell multiplication (e.g. fetus). It is involved in the synthesis of essential DNA components. During embryogenesis, the fetus works like a folic acid pump and a deficiency can easily develop in the female if she does not receive enough of it.
As with most B vitamins, yeast is the best dietary source of folic acid, although liver and green vegetables – especially spinach and watercress – are especially rich sources.