Folate, also known as folic acid, is a B vitamin that is essential for good health.
Folic acid plays an extremely important role in preventing birth defects. Low blood levels of folate during pregnancy can cause neural tube defects—anencephaly and
spina bifida. Because these defects occur in the first month of pregnancy, before a woman knows she is pregnant, it is important for any woman of childbearing age to get 400 mcg (micrograms) of folic acid daily. Taking folate and iron may offer additional benefits, like reducing the number of infants born with low birth weight and reducing infant mortality.
Also, deficiency of folic acid can result in megaloblastic anemia. This is due to the role that folic acid plays in the DNA synthesis and red blood cell division. Without folic acid new red blood cells can’t divide and thus stay large and immature.
Age group (in years)
Recommended Dietary Allowance
1 - 3
4 - 8
9 - 13
14 - 18
Pregnancy, ages 14-18
Lactation, ages 14-18
19 - 50
Pregnancy, ages 19-50
Lactation, ages 19-50
51 - 69
Here's How You Can Get Folate
Major Food Sources
Folate content (mcg)
Chicken liver, simmered
Fortified breakfast cereal
100-400 (check Nutrition Facts label)
Beef liver, braised
Pinto beans, canned
Lima beans, canned
Wheat germ, toasted
Orange juice, fresh
8 fl ounces
Whole wheat flour
Green peas, boiled
White rice, long-grain
Peanuts, dry roasted
Tomato juice, canned
Peanut butter, crunchy
Cashews, dry roasted
Bread, whole wheat
Tips For Increasing Your Folate Intake
To help increase your intake of folate:
Spread a little avocado on your sandwich in place of mayonnaise.
Drink a glass of orange juice or tomato juice in the morning.
Add spinach to your scrambled eggs.
Slice a banana on top of your breakfast cereal.
Sprinkle some toasted wheat germ on top of pasta or a stir-fry.
Throw some chickpeas or kidney beans into a salad.
If you take a vitamin supplement, make sure it contains folate.
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11/6/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance: Christian P, Stewart CP, LeClerq SC, et al. Antenatal and postnatal iron supplementation and childhood mortality in rural Nepal: a prospective follow-up in a randomized, controlled community trial. Am J Epidemiol. 2009;170:1127-1136. Christian P, Khatry SK, Katz J, et al. Effects of alternative maternal micronutrient supplements on low birth weight in rural Nepal: double blind randomised community trial. BMJ. 2003;326(7389):571.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a