Does Your Diet Contain Enough Folic Acid?


Man Shopping for Greens

People are often confused by the terms folic acid and folate, but they actually have the very same effects. While folic acid refers to the essential B-vitamin that helps with metabolism and cell growth, folate is a natural form of this vitamin that is in many foods. However, folic acid is a man-made version of the vitamin that is added to fortified foods or supplements. When people say “folic acid,” they are usually referring to either form of the B vitamin.

Unfortunately, studies have shown that many people aren’t getting enough folic acid from their diet alone. Folate deficiencies have the potential to be devastating, having the potential to cause certain types of cancer and leading to some types of birth defects. If you’re looking for a great source of folate, green veggies are a great option, since they are packed with this vitamin. However, other foods are great sources of the vitamin as well, including eggplant, cantaloupe, seeds, nuts, quinoa, legumes, squash, tomatoes, and other fruits.

Research done within the last few years has shown us how important this vitamin is to good health. For adults eating a 2,000 calorie diet, it’s recommended to get 400 mcg of folic acid each day. Children should get between 150 mcg and 300 mcg per day, depending on their age. However, women who are pregnant, breast feeding, or able to get pregnant may need to add more folic acid in their diet. Women who can get pregnant should have between 400-800 mcg daily, pregnant women should have 600 mcg, and women who are breast feeding should have 500 mcg each day.

Surprisingly, it’s easier for the body to use the man-made version of this vitamin. So, even if you’re eating plenty of fruits and veggies with folate, you still may need a supplement of folic acid to make sure you’re getting enough.

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