By: Rebecca Cline
Folate, also known as folic acid, is a water soluble B-vitamin that the body needs to function properly. One of the main purposes an adequate intake of this vitamin does is prevent birth defects, which can result with cranial, spinal, and other physical disabilities. Folic acid forms new blood cells in the body and is responsible for DNA synthesis. The terms, folate and folic acid, are often used interchangeably as they are essentially the same thing only different forms of the vitamin. Folate presents in the dietary source that naturally occurs in foods while folic acid is the synthetic form (supplement) of this vitamin.
What’s an adequate amount of folate?
For men, 400 micrograms per day of folate is the recommended amount. For nonpregnant females who are of childbearing years and plan to get pregnant in the future, the amount is at least 400 micrograms per day. The neural tube closes after 28 days of gestation, which may be before most women even realize that they are pregnant; therefore, all females should already be consuming an adequate amount before even trying to conceive. Moreover, once a female does become pregnant, she is encouraged to increase her folate intake to about 600 micrograms each day. Pregnant or planning to become pregnant in the future, women should consistently consume and maintain these recommended daily amounts as it is extremely important for lowering neural tube defect risks.
What can I do to get my folate recommendations in daily?
Folate can be found in a variety of citrus fruits and leafy green vegetables. It is also especially rich in spinach, mushrooms, legumes, beans, and fortified cereals. To aid in reaching your daily recommended amount, consider consuming a folic acid supplement or a multivitamin.
Use this table as a guide for consuming folate-rich foods.
|Fortified dry cereal||1 cup||100-672*|
|Black-eyed peas, boiled||1 cup||358|
|Lentils, boilded||1 cup||358|
|Asparagus, cooked||1 cup||243|
|Broccoli, cooked||1 cup||168|
|Spinach, cooked||1/2 cup||131|
|Orange juice||1 cup||75|
Are there any symptoms of a folate deficiency?
Along with birth defects, other signs of a folate deficiency include fatigue, diarrhea, megaloblastic anemia (red blood cell count is lower than normal), mental confusion, or poor growth. The populations of people who are at the greatest risk for a folate deficiency are ones who abuse alcohol or have some type of absorption impairment. On the other hand, it is also important to know that too much folate can mask vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms.
What are some benefits from adequate folate consumption?
Many benefits can come from achieving appropriate folate recommendations. Normal digestion and the repair of cells and tissues are suited when this B-vitamin’s needs are met. Some research has also shown that folate has links to lower risks of depression, maintaining a healthy heart, and preventing certain types of cancer.