Folate (known as folic acid when added to foods) is a B-group vitamin found in a variety of foods. Folic acid helps protect against neural tube defects in the developing foetus, so it is important for pregnant women to make sure that they are receiving enough of this important vitamin.
For women who are planning a pregnancy, and during the first three months of pregnancy, a daily folic acid supplement that contains at least 400 micrograms of folic acid is recommended, as well as eating foods that are naturally rich in folate or are fortified with folic acid. The recommendation for this supplement is that for many women the intake of the foods high in folate they may not be eating or eating enough of.
In Australia, all wheat flour used in bread making must contain folic acid (with the exception of flour used in ‘organic’ bread). Three slices of fortified bread (100 g) contains an average of 120 micrograms of folic acid. Breakfast cereals and fruit juices sold in Australia may also have folic acid added.
What Is Folate?
If you never knew why your mom told you to eat your vegetables, you’re about to find out. Among the many vitamins and nutrients found in vegetables is folate, which is vital for growth. Sometimes known as folic acid, this vitamin helps your body build new cells. This process takes place every day, so don’t ever pass on the salad.
The discovery of folate was closely tied to the discovery of vitamin B12. These two vitamins work together in several important biological reactions. A deficiency of either vitamin results in a condition known as megaloblastic, or macrocytic (large-cell), anemia.
In 1930, researcher Lucy Wills and her colleagues reported that yeast contained a substance that could cure macrocytic anemia in pregnant women. But it wasn’t until the early 1940s that folate was finally isolated and identified.
Folate functions as a coenzyme during many reactions in the body. It has an important role in making new cells, because it helps form the genetic material DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and RNA (ribonucleic acid). DNA carries and RNA transmits the genetic information that acts as the blueprint for cell production.
Natural Sources of Folate are Best for Optimal Health
Excellent Food sources of Folate are found in Green Leafy vegetables
- bran flakes
- Brussels sprouts
- chick peas
- dried beans
- brewers yeast
Very good food sources of folate include:
- orange juice
- wheat germ
- wholegrain bread.
Good food sources of folate include:
- unsalted peanuts
Your Daily Intake 66 mcg of Folate with the food you Eat: instead of taking a supplement:
Some Simple Examples: you can eat each day to get your recommended daily folate intake of 600mcg.
- 2 x tablespoons of brewers yeast – This can be added to a smoothie. Then in a salad during the day a cup of asparagus, baby spinach, tomatoes and walnuts.
- 1 cup of cooked lentils =358mcg of folate so add 1 cup of spinach = 263 mcg of folate
- Then to top up with foods during the day such as avocado, strawberries, bananas, kiwi fruit, celery, carrots, onion, garlic, capsicum. These are also beneficial due to the other nutrients especially Vitamin C that assists with proper absorption of Folate. One kiwi fruit per day is your recommended daily vitamin C dose.
- Getting enough and adequate vitamins is easy when you eat a diet high in vegetables and fruit. Not only are you getting adequate vitamin intake, your vitamins are being readily absorbed and metabolised by your body because they are real foods.
- Sunflower & flaxseeds and nuts such as walnuts & almonds – 1 cup = 300 mcg
Although liver is high in folate, it is not recommended for women who are, or could be pregnant, because of its high vitamin A content.