Here's Why Folate Is Good for You

salad_spinach_eating_pregnancyFolate, 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. Pairing folate with iron may reduce the number of infants born with low birth weight and reduce infant mortality.

Folate deficiency can also 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.

Recommended Intake
Age group (in years)Recommended Dietary Allowance
FemalesMales
1 - 3150 mcg150 mcg
4 - 8200 mcg200 mcg
9 - 13300 mcg300 mcg
14 - 18400 mcg400 mcg
Pregnancy, ages 14-18600 mcgn/a
Lactation, ages 14-18500 mcgn/a
19+400 mcg400 mcg
Pregnancy, ages 19+600 mcgn/a
Lactation, ages 19+500 mcgn/a

Here's How You Can Get Folate

Major Food Sources

Foods with the high amounts of folate include:

  • Fortified breakfast cereal
  • Beef liver
  • Lentils
  • Spinach
  • Egg noodles
  • Great Northern beans
  • Asparagus
  • Macaroni
  • Rice
  • Avocado
  • Papaya
  • Corn
  • Broccoli
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.