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 during pregancy may offer additional benefits, like reducing a child's risk of having severe language delays. 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.
|Age group (in years)
||Recommended Dietary Allowance
|1 - 3
|4 - 8
|9 - 13
|14 - 18
|Pregnancy, ages 14-18
|Lactation, ages 14-18
|Pregnancy, ages 19+
|Lactation, ages 19+
Here's How You Can Get Folate
Major Food Sources
Foods with the high amounts of folate include:
- Fortified breakfast cereal
- Beef liver
- Egg noodles
- Great Northern beans
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.
Last reviewed August 2012 by Brian Randall, MD
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