Learn All About Folate (Folic Acid)
Folate is found naturally in some foods but is also readily available as a supplement known as folic acid. While all people need this important nutrient, it is very important for women who are of child bearing years to be sure they have adequate levels in their body before, during and after pregnancy. Most women do not get enough folate through food alone, so often they will be advised by their doctor to take supplements.
Folic acid is thought to play a very important role in cell growth and division, so it is though that a mother with adequate folate levels in her body before and during pregnancy can help to prevent major birth defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly. Folic acid also plays an important role in red blood cell formation and protein metabolism, which can help prevent heart disease and cancer.
Folate can be found in most leafy green vegetables, beetroot, whole grains, nuts, avocado and even yeast. Liver, kidney and salmon are also alternative sources.
RDI (Recommended Daily Intake)
The recommended daily intake of folate for men and women is 400mcg, unless the woman is pregnant. During pregnancy a woman should consume 400-800mcg on a daily basis in order to help prevent birth defects.
Food Portion Guide
To ensure you are getting your daily dose, a large amount of leafy greens would need to be included into your daily diet. For example, two and a half cups of cooked spinach would be required to achieve your minimum RDI of 400mcg.
Possible Symptoms of Deficiency
As this nutrient helps keep your blood healthy, not getting enough folic acid can sometimes cause anaemia. Women are also at increased risk of having a child with birth defects if their levels are low during pregnancy.
Possible Side Effects Of Overdose
You can’t consume too much folate via dietary food, however it is advisable to discuss any supplement dosages with your doctor. While there are no known side effects of too much folic acid, it is possible that high doses may disguise symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency, which could in turn lead to other health problems.
In summary, a large amount of leafy greens and other folate rich foods must be consumed in order to achieve the ideal daily dose through food alone. For this reason many people, especially pregnant women, may be advised by their local doctor to take supplements or multivitamins containing this vital nutrient.
If you are pregnant or you are planning to get pregnant in the near future, be sure to consult with your Doctor regarding your folate levels.