Folate and Your Health
What is folate?
Folate is one of the B vitamins found naturally in foods.
What is folic acid?
Folic acid is a form of folate. You can find it in vitamin supplements and fortified foods. Fortified foods, also called enriched foods, are foods that have had specific nutrients added to them.
Why is folate important for my health?
Everyone needs some folate in their bodies. Folate helps make red and white blood cells. If you do not get enough folate, you could get a blood condition called anemia (an-ee-me-yah). People who have anemia feel tired or weak all the time and have trouble focusing or concentrating.
Folate is also needed for growth, especially in developing babies. Folate helps prevent some birth defects, such as defects of the brain and spinal cord. Brain or spinal cord defects are called neural tube defects (NTDs). For more information, see HealthLinkBC File #38c Nutrition and Pregnancy: Neural Tube Defects and Folic Acid.
How much folate do I need each day?
|Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for Folate (Daily)|
|0 to 6 months||65 mcg||65 mcg|
|7 to 12 months||80 mcg||80 mcg|
|1 to 3||150 mcg||150 mcg|
|4 to 8||200 mcg||200 mcg|
|9 to 13||300 mcg||300 mcg|
|14 and older||400 mcg||400 mcg|
mcg = micrograms
Adults need 400 micrograms (mcg) of folate each day. 400 micrograms (mcg) is equal to 0.4 milligrams (mg). Micrograms can also be written with the symbol μg. You can usually get enough folate each day by choosing foods that are good sources of folate.
If you are not sure you are getting enough folate from food, you can take a multivitamin each day.
Do some people need more folate?
Yes. Women who could become pregnant, who are pregnant, or who breastfeed need more folate.
All women 14 to 50 years of age who could become pregnant need to eat foods that are high in folate and take a supplement with 400 mcg of folic acid every day.
Pregnant women need at least 600 mcg of folate each day from foods and supplements. The brain and spine of a developing baby form in the first 4 weeks of the pregnancy (the first or second week after the first missed period). Taking a folic acid supplement each day helps reduce the chance of a neural tube defect in a developing baby.
Breastfeeding women need at least 500 mcg of folate each day from food and supplements.
Never eat or take more than 1000 mcg (1 mg) of folate from foods and supplements each day unless your health care provider has told you to take more. Too much folic acid can cause other health problems.
Which foods are good sources of folate?
Good sources of folate include:
- peas, beans, and lentils (cooked, not canned);
- dark green leafy vegetables;
- other vegetables and fruits; and
- enriched grain products.
For more nutrition information, call 8-1-1 to speak with a registered dietitian.
Food Sources of Folate
|Food||Portion||Folate||Notes (see below)|
|Asparagus, cooked||6 spears||134 mcg|
|Avocado||1/2 fruit||81 mcg|
|Beets, cooked||125 mL or 1/2 c||72 mcg|
|Black beans, navy beans or dark red kidney beans, cooked||175 mL or 3/4 c||183 mcg||1|
|Bok Choy or corn, fresh, frozen, canned, cooked||125 mL or 1/2 c||31 mcg|
|Broccoli, cooked||125 mL or 1/2 c||89 mcg|
|Broccoli, raw or cauliflower, raw or cooked||125 mL or 1/2 c||30 mcg|
|Brussels sprouts, cooked||4 sprouts||50 mcg|
|Cold breakfast cereals||30 g||36 mcg||3|
|Cranberry beans, lentils, or black eyed peas, cooked||175 mL or 3/4 c||267 mcg||1|
|Eggs, cooked||2 large eggs||54 mcg|
|Gai-lan (Chinese broccoli) or parsnips, cooked||125 mL or 1/2 c||47 mcg|
|Green peas, frozen, cooked||125 mL or 1/2 c||50 mcg|
|Hazelnuts or cashews||60 mL or 1/4 c||25 mcg|
|Liver, beef, cooked||75 g or 2 1/2 oz||193 mcg||2|
|Liver, chicken, cooked||75 g or 2 1/2 oz||420 mcg||2|
|Liver pate||75 g or 2 1/2 oz||45 mcg||2|
|Liver, pork, cooked||75 g or 2 1/2 oz||122 mcg||2|
|Orange juice, fresh||125 mL or 1/2 c||39 mcg|
|Orange juice, from frozen concentrate||125 mL or 1/2 c||58 mcg|
|Orange||1 medium||39 mcg|
|Papaya||1/2 fruit||58 mcg|
|Pasta, enriched, cooked||125 mL or 1/2 c||93 mcg||3|
|Peanut butter, natural||30 mL or 2 Tbsp||46 mcg|
|Peanuts, roasted||60 mL or 1/4 c||54 mcg|
|Romaine lettuce, raw||250 mL or 1 c||80 mcg|
|Pinto beans or garbanzo beans (chick peas), cooked||175 mL or 3/4 c||214 mcg||1|
|Soybeans, cooked||175 mL or 3/4 c||69 mcg||1|
|Soybeans, green/edamame, cooked and shelled||125 mL or 1/2 c||106 mcg|
|Spinach, cooked||125 mL or 1/2 c||139 mcg|
|Spinach, raw||250 mL or 1 c||61 mcg|
|Split peas or home-prepared baked beans, cooked||175 mL or 3/4 c||92 mcg||1|
|Sunflower seed kernels, dried||60 mL or 1/4 c||83 mcg|
|Tomato juice or vegetable juice cocktail, canned||125 mL or 1/2 c||27 mcg|
|Wheat germ, toasted||30 mL or 2 Tbsp||50 mcg|
|White beans, canned||175 mL or 3/4 c||181 mcg||1|
|White bread||35 g or 1 slice||60 mcg||3|
mL = millilitre, g = gram, oz = ounce, c = cup, Tbsp = tablespoon