Folate

Folic Acid, Folacin

Functions

  • helps regulate production, division, and maintenance of new cells
    • coenzyme in synthesis of nucleic acids and protein
    • especially during pregnancy and infancy
  • normal functioning of hematopoietic system
  • helps prevent pregnancy related anemia

Deficiency

  • anemia
  • irritability
  • weakness
  • sleep disturbances
  • pallor
  • sore and reddened tongue
  • neural tube birth defects in newborns

Characteristics

  • slightly soluble in water
  • easily destroyed by heat in presence of acid
  • decreases when food is stored at room temperature

Good Sources

Folate

Natural

  • liver
  • green, leafy vegetables
  • broccoli
  • asparagus
  • beans
  • whole grains
  • citrus fruit
Food Quantity mg
Orange, navel 1 medium 47.6
Spinach, raw 1 cup 102.6
Beans, homemade baked 1 cup 121.4
Asparagus, boiled 1/2 cup 131.4

Artificial

  • enriched flour
  • wheat germ
  • Folic Acid (synthetic version of folate)

Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA)

  • Males (11 yrs. and older)
    • 400 mcg
  • Females (11 yrs. and older)
    • 400 mcg
  • Pregnant females
    • 800 mcg
  • Lactating females
    • 500 mcg
  • Children
    • 100-300 mcg
  • Infants
    • 30-45 mcg

Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (UL)

  • Adults (19 to 50 yrs)
    • 1000 mcg
  • Generally considered nontoxic
  • Intakes above UL may lead to negative health consequences
    • A large dose may prevent the appearance of anemia in a case of pernicious anemia, but still permits neurological symptoms to develop

Supplementation

  • Folic acid was thought to be better absorbed than naturally-occurring folate. However, a diet containing a variety of folate-rich, whole foods has been shown to be nearly as effective (Winkels 2007).
  • 400 mcg for all women who may become pregnant
    • in addition to the recommended amount of what they should normally consume in a balanced diet
    • help prevent birth defects
  • Pregnant women should take a 600 mcg supplement
  • Others suggest 400-1200 mcg
  • Best taken with multivitamin

Reference

Winkels RM, Brouwer IA, Siebelink E, Katan MB, Verhoef P (2007). Bioavailability of food folates is 80% of that of folic acid. Am J Clin Nutr. 85(2):465-73.

Related Articles