Folate, otherwise known as B9, occurs naturally in the foods that we eat. Folate plays an important role for our health, as it contributes to protein metabolism and helps us form DNA. It is also needed to produce healthy red blood cells. Folate is especially important for pregnant women, as it helps promote proper fetal growth and development, and reduces the risk of birth defects.
The Importance of Folate
Like other B vitamins, folate is water-soluble. This means that rather than storing it in your body, any excess will get excreted through your urine. Since your body will not store it, you need to make sure that you are consuming enough folate in your diet every day.
Healthy adults should aim to get at least 400 mcg of folate each day in order to prevent deficiency.
Having insufficient folate intake can lead to deficiencies. Having too little can result in megaloblastic anemia, which can include symptoms such as:
Changes in your hair, nails, and skin
Plus, folate is required for carrying a healthy pregnancy, for heart and brain health, and it helps reduce your risk of getting cancer.
Foods High in Folate
Many different foods, in particular dark, leafy greens, contain high levels of folate, which makes it pretty easy to reach your daily recommended intake from your diet without supplementing. You can also find fortified cereals which contain folate. Here are some examples of other foods that are high in folate:
Most meats can be low in folate, but beef liver is one of the most concentrated sources that you can find. Beef liver contains 215 mcg of folate in a 3-ounce serving. It also gives you a decent amount of protein, plus more than 100% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin A, B12 and copper.
Legumes can be a great source of folate, and include beans, peas and lentils. One cup of cooked kidney beans contains 131 mcg of folate, which is about 33% of the recommended daily intake. Legumes also make a great source of protein, fiber and antioxidants and other important micronutrients like potassium and iron.
Dark, Leafy Greens
Most types of dark, leafy greens contain high levels of folate. In particular, spinach, which is considered a powerhouse of nutrients, can provide 58 mcg in a 1 cup serving size. Other great leafy greens include kale and arugula, which are also full of key vitamins and minerals.
Many people enjoy eggs for breakfast in the morning, which is great because they are high in many essential vitamins and minerals. They contain protein, selenium, riboflavin, and vitamins B12. A hardboiled egg has 22 mcg of folate. Including a few eggs per week into your diet is an easy yet effective way to boost your folate intake.
Beets are not only rich in color, they are also rich in many other important nutrients. They contain a lot of the manganese, potassium and vitamin C that you will need each day. They are also a good source of folate, with a single cup containing 148 mcg of folate. Besides their great micronutrient content, they also contain nitrates which are associated with many health benefits.
Bananas are typically known for their high potassium content, but they are also high in carbohydrates and are easily digestible and portable. They are particularly high in folate and will easily help you reach your daily needs when paired with other foods. One medium banana contains 23 mcg of folate.
Avocados have become an extremely popular food thanks to their creamy texture and versatility. Not only do avocados have a unique taste, but they are also a great source of a lot of key nutrients, including folate. A whole avocado contains 164 mcg of folate, plus they are rich in potassium and vitamins K, C and B6. They are also good sources of monounsaturated fats, which may protect against heart disease.
Most types of grains like bread and pasta are fortified to boost their folic acid content. The exact amounts do vary between products. Some studies have shown that the folic acid found in fortified foods can be more easily digestible than folate found in natural foods.
Eating a well-balanced diet that is both rich in natural and fortified folate will ensure that you are meeting your needs each day, while minimizing the risk of potential health issues. Folate is an important micronutrient that can be found in abundance in natural and fortified foods.
Making sure you eat a variety of healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, and fortified foods, is an easy way to help increase your folate intake. Not only are these foods rich in folate, but they also contain other key nutrients that will help improve other aspects of your overall health.
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