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What Are the Best Folic Acid Foods?

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  • Written By: K. Allen
  • Edited By: Amanda L. Wardle
  • Last Modified Date: 01 December 2016
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Folic acid foods are those with high levels of the naturally occurring vitamin folate, such as green leafy vegetables and some fruits. Some foods are also enriched with the synthetic version of folate. These include fortified breakfast cereals, enriched breads, and enriched white rice and pasta. Fortified soy milk is also high in folic acid, and some people combine it with cereal in an attempt to reach their recommended daily requirement of this vitamin.

Folate is a member of the water-soluble family of B vitamins, and its name is derived from the Latin “folium,” which means leaf. Natural sources of folate include leafy vegetables such as lettuce, cabbage, spinach, and turnip greens. Folate is also found in beans, nuts, avocados, and eggs. Certain fruits, including oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, and bananas, also naturally contain folate. In addition to plants and grains, some meats — beef and calf liver in particular — are exceptionally high folic acid foods.

Folate plays an essential role in the body, and folic acid foods are necessary for maintaining good health in a number of different ways. Perhaps the most significant is this vitamin's role in preventing birth defects and complications in childbirth. It can also aid in the prevention or lessening of anemia, osteoporosis, and dementia. Folate is instrumental in cell development and helps prevent changes in DNA that can lead to some forms of cancer.

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Research has indicated that it is difficult to consistently take in sufficient folate by consuming foods in which it is found naturally. The suggested minimum daily requirement for adults is 400 micrograms. For women who are pregnant, this increases to 600 micrograms. This is why many governments all over the world have either mandated or strongly recommended that certain foods, such as breads, rice, and pasta, be enriched or fortified to become high folic acid foods.

A diet that consistently includes those foods with high levels of folate will go a long way towards achieving good health. Studies have shown that folic acid, even in its synthetic version, is easily assimilated, broken down, and used by the body for good health.

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