Good Food Sources of Folate
Here's Why Folate Is Good for You
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||150 mcg||150 mcg|
|4 - 8||200 mcg||200 mcg|
|9 - 13||300 mcg||300 mcg|
|14 - 18||400 mcg||400 mcg|
|Pregnancy, ages 14-18||600 mcg||n/a|
|Lactation, ages 14-18||500 mcg||n/a|
|19 - 50||400 mcg||400 mcg|
|Pregnancy, ages 19-50||600 mcg||n/a|
|Lactation, ages 19-50||500 mcg||n/a|
|51 - 69||400 mcg||400 mcg|
|70 +||400 mcg||400 mcg|
Here's How You Can Get Folate
Major Food Sources
|Food||Serving size||Folate content (mcg)|
|Chicken liver, simmered||3.5 ounces||770|
|Fortified breakfast cereal||3/4 cup||100-400 (check Nutrition Facts label)|
|Soy flour||1 cup||260|
|Beef liver, braised||3.5 ounces||217|
|Chickpeas, canned||1 cup||160|
|Pinto beans, canned||1 cup||144|
|Spinach, boiled||1/2 cup||131|
|Lima beans, canned||1 cup||121|
|Wheat germ, toasted||1/4 cup||102|
|Asparagus, boiled||4 spears||85|
|Orange juice, fresh||8 fl ounces||75|
|Spinach, raw||1/2 cup||54|
|Whole wheat flour||1 cup||53|
|Green peas, boiled||1/2 cup||50|
|White rice, long-grain||1/2 cup||45|
|Orange, navel||1 medium||44|
|Peanuts, dry roasted||1 ounce||41|
|Wheat flour||1 cup||40|
|Broccoli, boiled||1/2 cup||39|
|Tomatoes, sun-dried||1 cup||37|
|Tomato juice, canned||6 ounces||35|
|Peanut butter, crunchy||2 tablespoons||29|
|Cashews, dry roasted||1 ounce||20|
|Bread, whole wheat||1 slice||15|
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.
American Dietetic Association
Food and Nutrition
United States Department of Agriculture
Canadian Council on Food and Nutrition
Dietitians of Canada
Folic acid: frequently asked questions. Center for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/folicacid/faqs.htm. Accessed on November 12, 2006.
Folic acid information. WIC Learning Center website. Available at: http://www.nal.usda.gov/wicworks/Learning_Center/WICfood_folic.html. Accessed on November 12, 2006.
Garrison RH, Somer E. The Nutrition Desk Reference. New Canann, CT: Keats Publishing; 1995.
Hankey GJ. Is plasma homocysteine a modifiable risk factor for stroke? Nat Clin Pract Neurol. 2006;2(review):26-33.
Herrmann W. Significance of hyperhomocysteinemia. Clin Lab. 2006;52(review):367-374.
Toole J, Malinow R, Chambless L, et al. Lowering homocysteine in patients with ischemic stroke to prevent recurrent stroke, myocardial infarction, and death: the Vitamin Intervention for Stroke Prevention (VISP) randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2004;291:565-575.
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.
Last reviewed June 2010 by ]]>Brian Randall, MD]]>
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 medical condition.
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