What Vegetables Have Folic Acid In Them? Who doesn’t want their babies to be healthy and smart? This is why it is important to consume Foods High In Folate foods that are healthy.
These are the health benefits of Vitamin B9 Foods. Whether it is broccoli, spinach, or lettuce, these vegetables pack a powerful nutritional punch that could boost your health. Discover the top health benefits of folic acid. Improve your heart health, lower your risk of cancer and stroke, and make sure you’re getting enough B vitamins.
What Vegetables Have Folic Acid In Them
Folic acid natural sources
The word folic acid is derived from foliage. Folic acid is commonly found in dark green and leafy vegetables such as:
- romaine lettuces
- turnip greens
- dried or fresh beans and peas, etc.
Food containing folic acid – Celery, arugula, avocado, Brussels sprouts, basil, cucumber romaine salad. Image Credit: Komarina / Shutterstock
Other sources of this vitamin include:
- sunflower seeds
- orange juice
- canned pineapple juice
- honeydew melon
- grapefruit juice
- tomato juice
- vegetable juice
- Brussels sprouts
- wheat germ
- bok choy etc.
Food containing folic acid / vitamin B9, dietary fiber, natural minerals and folic acid. Image Credit: ratmaner / Shutterstock
Folic acid in fortified foods
Folic acid is also found in fortified foods such as flour, pasta, cereal, bread. Breakfast cereals, for example, are fortified with 25% to 100% of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for folic acid.
Certain countries have mandatory fortification of grains with folic acid. In these places fortified products make up a significant source of the population’s folic acid intake.
To make the intake of folates universal and to standardize intake of folates a dietary folate equivalent (DFE) system was established. 1 DFE is defined as 1 μg of dietary folate, or 0.6 μg of folic acid supplement. This is reduced to 0.5 μg of folic acid if the supplement is taken on an empty stomach.
Folic acid supplements
Folic acid is commonly administered as pills or supplements as well. This is required in conditions where the daily need for the vitamin exceeds that provided in regular diet. Some of these conditions include pregnancy, breast feeding mothers, those with inflammatory bowel disease, HIV, those on anticancer drugs and other drugs that interfere with folate absorption and utilization.
Nature of folic acid found in foods
Folic acid is a water soluble vitamin. It is thus lost on open boiling and cooking. Folic acid is susceptible to high heat and UV rays as well. It is heat labile in acidic environments and may also be subject to oxidation.
Foods High In Folate
Folate, also known as vitamin B9, is a water-soluble vitamin that has many important functions in your body.
In particular, it supports healthy cell division and promotes proper fetal growth and development to reduce the risk of birth defects
Vitamin B9 is found naturally in many foods, as well as in the form of folic acid in fortified foods.
It’s recommended that healthy adults get at least 400 mcg of folate per day to prevent a deficiency
Legumes are the fruit or seed of any plant in the Fabaceae family, including:
Although the exact amount of folate in legumes can vary, they’re an excellent source of folate.
For example, one cup (177 grams) of cooked kidney beans contains 131 mcg of folate, or about 33% of the Daily Value (DV)
Meanwhile, one cup (198 grams) of cooked lentils contains 358 mcg of folate, which is 90% of the DV
Legumes are also a great source of protein, fiber, and antioxidants, as well as important micronutrients like potassium, magnesium, and iron
Legumes are rich in folate and many other nutrients. One cup (198 grams) of cooked lentils contains 90% of the DV, while one cup (177 grams) of cooked kidney beans contains about 33% of the DV.
Asparagus contains a concentrated amount of many vitamins and minerals, including folate.
In fact, a half-cup (90-gram) serving of cooked asparagus contains about 134 mcg of folate, or 34% of the DV
Asparagus is also rich in antioxidants and has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
What’s more, it’s an excellent source of heart-healthy fiber, knocking out up to 6% of your daily fiber needs in just one serving
Asparagus is high in fiber and contains a good amount of folate, with about 34% of the DV per half-cup serving.
Adding eggs to your diet is a great way to boost your intake of several essential nutrients, including folate.
Just one large egg packs 22 mcg of folate, or approximately 6% of the DV
Including even just a few servings of eggs in your diet each week is an easy way to boost your folate intake and help meet your needs.
Eggs are also loaded with protein, selenium, riboflavin, and vitamin B12 .
Furthermore, they’re high in lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that may help reduce the risk of eye disorders like macular degeneration.
Eggs are a good source of folate, with about 6% of the DV in just one large egg.
4. Leafy greens
Leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, and arugula are low in calories yet bursting with many key vitamins and minerals, including folate.
One cup (30 grams) of raw spinach provides 58.2 mcg, or 15% of the DV
Leafy greens are also high in fiber and vitamins K and A. They’ve been associated with a host of health benefits.
Studies show that eating more cruciferous vegetables, such as leafy greens, may be associated with reduced inflammation, a lower risk of cancer, and increased weight loss
Leafy green vegetables are high in many nutrients, including folate. One cup (30 grams) of raw spinach contains about 15% of the DV.
In addition to providing a burst of color to main dishes and desserts alike, beets are rich in many important nutrients.
They contain much of the manganese, potassium, and vitamin C that you need throughout the day.
They’re also a great source of folate, with a single cup (136 grams) of raw beets containing 148 mcg of folate, or about 37% of the DV
Besides their micronutrient content, beets are high in nitrates, a type of plant compound that has been associated with many health benefits.
One small study showed that drinking beetroot juice temporarily lowered systolic blood pressure by 4–5 mmHg in healthy adults
Beets are high in nitrates and folate. One cup (136 grams) of raw beets contains 37% of the DV for folate.
6. Citrus fruits
Besides being delicious and full of flavor, citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes are rich in folate.
Just one large orange contains 55 mcg of folate, or about 14% of the DV
Citrus fruits are also packed with vitamin C, an essential micronutrient that can help boost immunity and aid disease prevention .
In fact, observational studies have found that a high intake of citrus fruits may be associated with a lower risk of breast, stomach, and pancreatic cancer
Citrus fruits are high in vitamin C and folate. One large orange contains about 14% of the DV.
7. Brussels sprouts
This nutritious vegetable belongs to the cruciferous family of vegetables and is closely related to other greens like kale, broccoli, cabbage, and kohlrabi.
Brussels sprouts are brimming with many vitamins and minerals and especially high in folate.
A half-cup (78-gram) serving of cooked Brussels sprouts can supply 47 mcg of folate, or 12% of the DV
They’re also a great source of kaempferol, an antioxidant associated with numerous health benefits.
Animal studies show that kaempferol can help to reduce inflammation and prevent oxidative damage
Brussels sprouts contain a good number of antioxidants and micronutrients. One-half cup (78 grams) of cooked Brussels sprouts provides about 12% of the DV for folate.
Well known for its multitude of health-promoting properties, adding broccoli to your diet can provide an array of essential vitamins and minerals.
When it comes to folate, one cup (91 grams) of raw broccoli contains around 57 mcg of folate, or about 14% of the DV
Cooked broccoli contains even more folate, with each half-cup (78-gram) serving providing 84 mcg, or 21% of the DV
Broccoli is also high in manganese and vitamins C, K, and A.
It likewise contains a wide variety of beneficial plant compounds, including sulforaphane, which has been studied extensively for its powerful anti-cancer properties
Broccoli, especially when cooked, is rich in folate. One cup (91 grams) of raw broccoli provides 14% of the DV, while one-half cup (78 grams) of cooked broccoli can supply 21% of your daily needs.
9. Nuts and seeds
There are plenty of reasons to consider upping your intake of nuts and seeds.
In addition to containing a hearty dose of protein, they’re rich in fiber and many of the vitamins and minerals that your body needs.
Incorporating more nuts and seeds into your diet can also help you meet your daily folate needs.
The amount of folate in various types of nuts and seeds can vary slightly.
One ounce (28 grams) of walnuts contains about 28 mcg of folate, or around 7% of the DV, while the same serving of flax seeds contains about 24 mcg of folate, or 6% of the DV
Nuts and seeds supply a good amount of folate in each serving. One ounce (28 grams) of almonds and flax seeds provides 7% and 6% of the DV, respectively.
10. Beef liver
Beef liver is one of the most concentrated sources of folate available.
A 3-ounce (85-gram) serving of cooked beef liver packs 212 mcg of folate, or about 54% of the DV .
In addition to folate, a single serving of beef liver can meet and exceed your daily requirements for vitamin A, vitamin B12, and copper
It’s also loaded with protein, providing a whopping 24 grams per 3-ounce (85-gram) serving.
Protein is necessary for tissue repair and the production of important enzymes and hormones.
Beef liver is high in protein and folate, with about 54% of the DV of folate in a single 3-ounce (85-gram) serving.
11. Wheat germ
Wheat germ is the embryo of the wheat kernel.
Although it’s often removed during the milling process, it supplies a high concentration of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Just one ounce (28 grams) of wheat germ provides 78.7 mcg of folate, which equals about 20% of your daily folate needs
It also contains a good chunk of fiber, providing up to 16% of the fiber you need per day in a single ounce (28 grams).
Fiber moves slowly through your digestive tract, adding bulk to your stool to help promote regularity, prevent constipation, and keep blood sugar levels steady
Wheat germ is high in fiber, antioxidants, and micronutrients. One ounce (28 grams) of wheat germ contains about 20% of the DV for folate.
Papaya is a nutrient-dense tropical fruit native to southern Mexico and Central America.
Besides being delicious and full of flavor, papaya is jam-packed with folate.
One cup (140 grams) of raw papaya contains 53 mcg of folate, which is equal to about 13% of the DV
Additionally, papaya is high in vitamin C, potassium, and antioxidants like carotenoids
Pregnant women should consider avoiding eating unripe papaya.
Researchers speculate that eating high amounts on unripe papaya might cause early contractions in pregnant women, but the evidence is weak
Papaya is rich in antioxidants and folate. One cup (140 grams) of raw papaya provides approximately 13% of the DV for folate.
Vitamin B9 Foods
Folate is the natural form of vitamin B9, water-soluble and naturally found in many foods. It is also added to foods and sold as a supplement in the form of folic acid; this form is actually better absorbed than that from food sources—85% vs. 50%, respectively. Folate helps to form DNA and RNA and is involved in protein metabolism. It plays a key role in breaking down homocysteine, an amino acid that can exert harmful effects in the body if it is present in high amounts. Folate is also needed to produce healthy red blood cells and is critical during periods of rapid growth, such as during pregnancy and fetal development.
RDA: The Recommended Dietary Allowance for folate is listed as micrograms (mcg) of dietary folate equivalents (DFE). Men and women ages 19 years and older should aim for 400 mcg DFE. Pregnant and lactating women require 600 mcg DFE and 500 mcg DFE, respectively. People who regularly drink alcohol should aim for at least 600 mcg DFE of folate daily since alcohol can impair its absorption.
UL: A Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) is the maximum daily dose unlikely to cause adverse side effects in the general population. The UL for adults for folic acid from fortified food or supplements (not including folate from food) is set at 1,000 mcg a day.
A wide variety of foods naturally contain folate, but the form that is added to foods and supplements, folic acid, is better absorbed. In January 1998, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration required food manufacturers to add folic acid to foods commonly eaten, including breads, cereals, pasta, rice, and other grain products, to reduce the risk of neural tube defects. This program has helped to increase the average folic acid intake by about 100 mcg/day. [38,39] Good sources of folate include:
- Dark green leafy vegetables (turnip greens, spinach, romaine lettuce, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, broccoli)
- Sunflower seeds
- Fresh fruits, fruit juices
- Whole grains
- Fortified foods and supplements
Signs of Deficiency and Toxicity
A folate deficiency is rare because it is found in a wide range of foods. However, the following conditions may put people at increased risk:
- Alcoholism. Alcohol interferes with the absorption of folate and speeds the rate that folate breaks down and is excreted from the body. People with alcoholism also tend to eat poor-quality diets low in folate-containing foods.
- Pregnancy. The need for folate increases during pregnancy as it plays a role in the development of cells in the fetus.
- Intestinal surgeries or digestive disorders that cause malabsorption. Celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease can decrease the absorption of folate. Surgeries involving the digestive organs or that reduce the normal level of stomach acid may also interfere with absorption.
- Genetic variants. People carrying a variant of the gene MTHFR cannot convert folate to its active form to be used by the body.
Signs of deficiency can include: megaloblastic anemia (a condition arising from a lack of folate in the diet or poor absorption that produces less red blood cells, and larger in size than normal); weakness, fatigue; irregular heartbeat; shortness of breath; difficulty concentrating; hair loss; pale skin; mouth sores.
It is extremely rare to reach a toxic level when eating folate from food sources.
However, an upper limit for folic acid is set at 1,000 mcg daily because studies have shown that taking higher amounts can mask a vitamin B12 deficiency. This deficiency occurs most often in older adults or those eating a vegan diet in whom a B12 deficiency is more common. Both folate and B12 are involved in making red blood cells, and a shortage of either can result in anemia. A person taking high-dosage supplements of folic acid may be able to correct the anemia and feel better, but the B12 deficiency still exists. In this case, if high folate intake continues to “hide” the symptoms of B12 deficiency for a long time, a slow but irreversible damage to the brain and nervous system may occur. If you choose to use a folic acid supplement, stick with the lower range available of 400 mcg a day or less, as you will likely obtain additional folic acid from fortified foods like cereals and breads, as well as natural folate in food.
Overall, the evidence suggests that the amount of folic acid in a typical multivitamin does not cause any harm—and may help prevent some diseases, especially among people who do not get enough folate in their diets, and among individuals who drink alcohol.
Health Benefits Of Folic Acid.
What is folic acid?
Folic acid is a B vitamin (B9). Just like other B vitamins, folic acid helps your body build healthy cells and turn food into energy. Folic acid can also prevent certain birth defects (called neural tube defects) when taken before and during pregnancy.
Folic acid is sometimes called “folate,” but they’re not quite the same thing. Here’s the difference:
- Folate: Folate refers to all of the B9 forms that occur naturally in food. Foods that are high in folate include beans, leafy green vegetables, and citrus fruits. Different types of folate include dihydrofolate (DHF), tetrahydrofolate (THF), and 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF).
- Folic acid: This is the synthetic (man-made) form of folate. It’s used in dietary supplements and prenatal vitamins, and added to packaged foods. It is also the only type of folate that is proven to prevent neural tube defects.
Folic acid has many different jobs in your body:
- Helps new tissues and cells grow
- Builds proteins
- Breaks food down into nutrients
- Makes red blood cells
- Makes DNA
Folic acid is mostly used to prevent neural tube defects, and prevent or treat anemia.
Folic acid: Sources and supplements
Folic acid does not occur naturally in foods. You can get folic acid by:
- Taking a folic acid supplement
- Eating packaged foods with folic acid added (like enriched cereals, breads, and rice)
Keep in mind: There are other types of folate (like 5-MTHF) found in foods, and available as supplements. But these are not the same thing as folic acid.
Folic acid is the only type of folate proven to prevent neural tube defects. Though folate-rich foods are generally nutritious and good for your health, women should also take a supplement and/or eat folic acid-fortified foods.
Folic acid dosing
The recommended daily doses of folic acid for women are:
- All women age 14 and older: 400 mcg
- Pregnant women: 600 mcg
- Pregnant women expecting twins: 1,000 mcg
- Nursing women: 500 mcg
If you’ve had a previous pregnancy with a neural tube defect, the recommendations are different:
- If you’re currently trying to get pregnant again, the CDC recommends consuming 4,000 mcg each day. You should start this dose 1 month before getting pregnant and continue it through the first trimester (3 months) of your pregnancy.
- If you’re not planning to get pregnant, you should get 400 mcg of folic acid per day — either from a supplement and/or by eating fortified foods. You should do this even if you’re not currently planning to get pregnant.
If you’re taking a medication called methotrexate (Trexall), you may be instructed to take a folic acid supplement during treatment. These doses tend to be higher — either 1,000 mcg once daily or 5,000 mcg once weekly.
You should not take more than 1,000 mcg of folic acid per day. Taking too much folic acid can cause side effects. It can also potentially make it harder to tell if you have a B12 deficiency.
You need to take folic acid every day for it to be effective. Unlike other vitamins and hormones, your body doesn’t store folic acid. Any leftover folic acid will pass out of your body in your urine. If you stop consuming folic acid, the levels in your body will slowly go down.
Common uses for folic acid supplements
Folic acid supplements are used for:
- Preventing neural tube defects in babies
- Preventing and treating anemia
- Preventing side effects from taking methotrexate
- Treating a folate deficiency
There’s also evidence that consuming folic acid can help:
- Prevent stroke
- Prevent heart disease
- Lower the risk of arsenic poisoning
The science behind folic acid
Most vitamin supplements don’t have a proven benefit. But that’s not the case with folic acid.
The evidence is clear: Folic acid prevents birth defects. This includes neural tube defects, like spina bifida and anencephaly. In fact, folic acid is so important that the FDA requires it to be added to all fortified grains, pasta, bread, and cereals — to help U.S. women get enough folic acid in their diet.
There’s also evidence that folic acid may help lower your risk of stroke and heart disease. In a large 2018 research study, taking a daily dose of 800 mcg of folic acid reduced the risk of stroke by 21% in adults with hypertension. And a 2016 meta-analysis suggested that people who take a folic acid supplement may have a 10% lower risk of stroke and a 4% lower risk of heart disease.