A nutrient in the vitamin B complex that the body needs in small amounts to function and stay healthy. Folic acid helps to make red blood cells. It is found in whole-grain breads and cereals, liver, green vegetables, orange juice, lentils, beans, and yeast. Folic acid is water-soluble (can dissolve in water) and must be taken in every day. Not enough folic acid can cause anemia (a condition in which the number of red blood cells is below normal), diseases of the heart and blood vessels, and defects in the brain and spinal cord in a fetus. Folic acid is being studied with vitamin B12 in the prevention and treatment of cancer. Also called folate.