Folate for Everybody
People of all ages can benefit from adequate intake of folate which is a type of B vitamin. The main role of folate in the body is to help form DNA and metabolize various amino acids. The supplemental form that most readers are familiar with is folic acid. Adequate intake of folate may prevent some cancers and disabilities, such as spina bifida and anencephaly. Inadequate intake of folate causes deficiencies such as blood anemia, while some people, such as women of child-bearing age, may have a maternal deficiency that results in neural tube defects. Pregnant women need extra folate to accommodate the constant increased rate of cell division and DNA synthesis in the developing fetus which is why prenatal vitamins are so important for women of childbearing age. Aging adults are also at risk for folate deficiency.
Some of the highest amounts of natural folate can be found in leafy green vegetables, asparagus, sprouts, dried beans, organ meats, and orange juice. Keep in mind that some food preparation processing methods, such as heat, can destroy the majority of the folate in food. To help vegetables retain their naturally high levels of folate, eat them raw or cook them lightly with minimal water (steaming, microwave, or stir fry).
Whole-wheat products are another good source of folate, and should be part of every healthy meal or food plan. Synthetic folic acid can be found in fortified cereals. Additional sources of folate include fruits such as strawberries, cantaloupe, and oranges. Try a breakfast smoothie that includes orange juice, strawberries, and ice:
Funky Strawberry Smoothie
- 1 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
- 1 cup frozen pineapple chunks
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1 1/2 cup low or non-fat yogurt (vanilla or plain)
- 1 cup crushed ice
In a blender, blend strawberries, pineapple, orange juice, yogurt, and ice until smooth.