Folic Acid Foods: What Are the Best Sources of Folate? | Ro (2023)

table of contents

  1. Folic acid foods
  2. Folate foods
  3. Can you get enough folate through diet alone?
  4. What is folic acid vs. folate?
  5. Folic acid deficiency

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You know how important it is to eat your fruits and veggies every day, but you may not always know which foods provide you with which essential nutrients. Folic acid—a synthetic form of folate—is another name for vitamin B9, an important nutrient for cell growth. Some foods are abundant in folate, while others have folic acid added to them. Keep reading to learn about food sources of folic acid and folate and how much you need each day.

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(Video) Folic Acid - Foods, Benefits, and Deficiency

Folic acid foods

Since folic acid is artificially produced, it isn’t naturally found in any foods. To help reduce the number of congenital anomalies caused by folate deficiencies, the government began requiring manufacturers to add folic acid to some types of food.

Food manufacturers use a process called fortification to add vitamins and minerals to foods during food processing. With this process, they can add a variety of micronutrients, like vitamin D, calcium, and folic acid, to the fortified foods.

Many breakfast cereals are fortified to provide a consistent amount of folic acid in each serving (USDA, 2019).

Here are some of the foods that are often enriched with folic acid:

  • Fortified grains products, whole grains, and flour
  • Bread and pasta
  • Rice
  • Corn and cornmeal
  • Fortified cereals and oatmeal

Folate foods

If you focus on eating a variety of whole foods, you may be able to meet your daily folate needs through your diet alone. Here are some of the foods sources of folate:

Green leafy vegetables

Dark leafy green vegetables are widely promoted as one of the healthiest foods because they are low in calories and loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

For example, one cup of raw green cabbage provides about 38 mcg of folate, 22 calories, 2 grams of fiber, 153 mg of potassium, 69 mcg of vitamin K, 87 IU of vitamin A (USDA, 2019).

In addition to being an excellent dietary source of folic acid, green leafy vegetables are good for other areas of your health. A 2018 study found that just one serving of green leafy vegetables per day helps to lower the cognitive decline common during aging (Morris, 2018).

Other examples of green leafy vegetables include:

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Arugula
  • Romaine lettuce
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(Video) Foods With Natural Folic Acid

Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts are a type of cruciferous vegetable, similar to leafy greens.

One cup of cooked brussels sprouts provides about 84 mcg of folate and only 70 calories, plus fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin A, choline, lutein + zeaxanthin, and more. There is just about 20% of your daily value for folate in just one cup of cooked brussels sprouts.

In addition to providing folate, the lutein and zeaxanthin found abundantly in brussels sprouts are powerful antioxidants, meaning they help protect your cells from damage and lower inflammation. Research suggests that lutein and zeaxanthin may help protect against cataracts, macular degeneration, coronary heart disease, and stroke (Murillo, 2019).

Broccoli

Broccoli is a popular non-starchy vegetable known for being an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals.

One half cup of cooked broccoli provides about 84 mcg of folate, which makes up around 20% of the recommended amount of folate needed each day. It also contains fiber, potassium, choline, vitamin A, lutein + zeaxanthin, and vitamin K (USDA, 2019).

Research suggests that the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants present in broccoli may help lower the risk of developing some types of cancer (Latte, 2011).

Beans and legumes

Beans and legumes are popular choices in vegan and plant-based diets because they are high in protein.

As an example, one cup of canned chickpeas provides over 30% of your daily folate needs, with 121 mcg of folate. It also contains a significant amount of protein and fiber, as well as other healthy nutrients. (USDA, 2019). .

Another member of the legume family may be the best food source of folate of all—lentils. Eating just one cup of cooked lentils provides almost 300 mcg of folate, which is about 90% of the daily recommendations (USDA, 2019).

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Here are some other beans and legumes high in folate and other nutrients:

  • Navy beans
  • Black-eyed peas
  • Lentils
  • Kidney beans
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Citrus fruits

Usually, when people talk about the vitamins in citrus fruits, they focus on the abundance of vitamin C. But they’re also a good source of folate and other antioxidants.

One medium mango provides 144 mcg of folate (about 36% of your daily folate needs), along with fiber, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and more.

You can even consume folate by drinking fruit juice. For example, 8 ounces of orange juice can provide a helpful amount of folate (USDA, 2019). Just watch out for the high sugar content in fruit juices.

Here are some other citrus fruits high in folate:

  • Oranges
  • Grapefruit
  • Kiwi
  • Papaya

Avocado

Avocado is another fruit high in folate. Its creamy texture and savory flavor make avocados useful for a variety of cooking methods, like mixing into a dip, spread, or adding to smoothies.

One medium avocado provides about 121 mcg of folate (around 30% of your daily folate needs!), 230 calories, 9 grams of fiber, 690 mg of potassium, 40 mg of magnesium, and 3 mg of vitamin E (USDA, 2019).

Avocados are mostly made of unsaturated fats, which are considered a heart-healthy fat. Research suggests that eating more unsaturated fat and lowering saturated fat intake helps to promote heart health and reduce cardiovascular disease risk (Dreher, 2013).

(Video) Top 5 Vitamin B9/Folate-Rich Foods

Can you get enough folate through diet alone?

It’s possible for you to eat enough folate through your diet if you focus on eating whole foods.

However, some people struggle to meet their folate needs through their diet alone. In addition, it can be challenging to know if you’re getting enough unless you’re tracking all of the folate in your food.

Because of the risks of a folate deficiency for neural tube defects, it’s often recommended for women of childbearing age to take a multivitamin or folic acid supplement to prevent this condition. Talk with your healthcare provider to see if a dietary supplement may be the right option for you.

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What is folic acid vs. folate?

Folic acid is a synthetically produced version of vitamin B9, while folate is naturally occurring in several different types of food, including those listed above. Vitamin B9 is a water-soluble vitamin that has many essential roles in the body, including (Khan, 2021):

  • Cell division and growth
  • Healthy DNA growth
  • Production of red blood cells
  • Fetal growth

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for folate is about 400 micrograms (mcg) for adults, 600 mcg for pregnant women, and 500 mcg for breastfeeding women. For people with deficiencies or who are at a higher risk for a deficiency, your healthcare provider may recommend doses between 1 to 5 milligrams (Khan, 2021).

Folic acid deficiency

You can’t actually have a folic acid deficiency, since folic acid is produced in a lab. A folate deficiency, though, may lead to side effects and conditions, like (Khan, 2021):

  • Anemia: A lack of folate may impact red blood cell production, causing megaloblastic anemia. Symptoms may include fatigue, breathlessness, pale skin, headaches, and irregular heartbeats.
  • Neural tube defects: Folate’s role in cell division helps with fetal growth and neural tube development. A folate deficiency during early pregnancy may lead to the development of spina bifida or anencephaly.

Often, vitamin supplements are recommended for women of childbearing age, breastfeeding women, and pregnant women to support growth and prevent congenital anomalies. Talk with your healthcare provider about what multivitamin or prenatal vitamin is right for you.

References

  1. Dreher, M. L., & Davenport, A. J. (2013). Hass avocado composition and potential health effects. Critical Reviews In Food Science And Nutrition, 53(7), 738–750. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2011.556759. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23638933/
  2. Khan, K. M. & Jialal, I. (2021). Folic acid deficiency. [Updated 2021 Sep 28]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Retrieved on Nov. 2, 2021 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK535377/
  3. Morris, M. C., Wang, Y., Barnes, L. L., Bennett, D. A., Dawson-Hughes, B., & Booth, S. L. (2018). Nutrients and bioactives in green leafy vegetables and cognitive decline: prospective study. Neurology, 90(3), e214–e222. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000004815. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29263222/
  4. Murillo, A. G., Hu, S., & Fernandez, ML. (2019). Zeaxanthin: metabolism, properties, and antioxidant protection of eyes, heart, liver, and skin. Antioxidants, 8(9), 390. doi: 10.3390/antiox8090390. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6770730/
  5. Latté, KP., Appel, KE., & Lampen, A. (2011). Health benefits and possible risks of broccoli – an overview. Food And Chemical Toxicology: An International Journal Published For The British Industrial Biological Research Association, 49(12), 3287–3309. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2011.08.019. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21906651/
  6. US Department of Agriculture. (2019). FoodData Central. Retrieved from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/index.html
(Video) Five dietary sources / food rich in vitamin Folic acid/ Folate to prevent folic acid deficiency

FAQs

Which food has the highest folic acid? ›

1. Leafy Green Vegetables. The word folate actually derives from foliage, which refers to the leafy green veggies that contain some of the highest natural concentrations of the vitamin found in any food. Just one cup of spinach contains around 100 mcg of folate.

What is the main source of folate? ›

Folate is found mainly in dark green leafy vegetables, beans, peas and nuts. Fruits rich in folate include oranges, lemons, bananas, melons and strawberries. The synthetic form of folate is folic acid. It's in an essential component of prenatal vitamins and is in many fortified foods such as cereals and pastas.

Which of the following is the best source of folic acid? ›

Dark leafy greens

These have the highest folate levels of any food. Consider adding more spinach, kale, collard greens, turnip greens, romaine lettuce, raw cabbage, Brussel sprouts and broccoli to your diet for an immediate folic acid boost.

Which fruit is full of folic acid? ›

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 ( 17 ).

Which food has folic acid? ›

Good sources of folate
  • broccoli.
  • brussels sprouts.
  • leafy green vegetables, such as cabbage, kale, spring greens and spinach.
  • peas.
  • chickpeas and kidney beans.
  • liver (but avoid this during pregnancy)
  • breakfast cereals fortified with folic acid.

Is peanut butter a folic acid? ›

Folic acid is the synthetic B vitamin form that is used in vitamin supplements and added to fortified foods. Folate is the B vitamin form found naturally in foods.
...
Folic Acid and Folate Values for Selected Foods.
FoodServing SizeFolic Acid/Folate per Serving* (mcg)
Peanut butter1 tablespoon12 - 15
Peas
Green Peas, cooked (frozen or canned)1 cup75 - 94
36 more rows

What breakfast foods are high in folic acid? ›

Folate-Fortified Foods
  • Malt-o-Meal cereal.
  • Fortified Breakfast Cereal (Total, Product 19, Special K, Cheerios, Rice Krispies, Raisin Bran, Wheaties, Honey Nut Cheerios, etc.)
  • Fortified soy milk.
  • Enriched pasta.
  • Enriched egg noodles.
  • Enriched bread, bagels, and muffins.
  • Enriched white rice.
8 Apr 2021

Does peanut butter have folate? ›

Folate is an important nutrient, especially during pregnancy since it reduces the risk of neural tube defects. Peanuts and peanut butter are a good source of folate.

Does Apple have folate? ›

* Synthetic folic acid content.
...
Choose your food:
FoodServing SizeFolate Amount (micrograms DFE*)
Apple (with skin)1, medium5
Banana1, medium20
Blueberries, fresh½ cup5
Cantaloupe¼, medium40
43 more rows
8 Jun 2017

Does oatmeal have folic acid? ›

Oats are a great source of vitamin B6 and folic acid. Vitamin B6 helps the body to use and store energy from food, which is why oats are perfect morning fuel. They also contain folic acid which helps the function of your immune system.

Are eggs a good source of folate? ›

According to this study, one egg (60 g) may provide 40–86 µg of folates, which corresponds to 10–22% of the recommended daily intake for adults, 400 µg according to the Nutrition Standards for the Polish Population.

Which vegetable has the most folic acid? ›

List of High Folate Foods
  • Edamame (Green Soybeans) Folate. per Cup. Folate. per 100g. Folate. per 200 Calories. 482mcg. (121% DV) 311mcg. ...
  • Lentils. Folate. per Cup. Folate. per 100g. Folate. per 200 Calories. 358mcg. (90% DV) 181mcg. ...
  • Asparagus. Folate. per Cup Cooked. Folate. per 100g. Folate. per 200 Calories. 268mcg. (67% DV) ...
  • Spinach.
26 Sept 2022

Do bananas have folic acid? ›

Bananas are rich in folate and can help you to meet daily needs. A medium-sized banana has 23.6mcg of folate. Banana is rich in Potassium, Vitamin B6 and Manganese too (14). Bananas have nutrients that help to moderate the blood sugar levels, improve your digestion, help in weight loss, and also contain antioxidants.

Do almonds have folic acid? ›

Many nuts, including sunflower seeds, peanuts and almonds, contain high folate levels.

Which juice is good for folic acid? ›

100% orange juice is one of the few fruit juices considered a good source of natural folate8 and is a great addition for a folate-rich diet. An 8-ounce serving of 100% orange juice provides 15% of the recommended Daily Value for folate.

Which is one of the first symptoms of folate deficiency? ›

diarrhoea. numbness and tingling in the feet and hands. muscle weakness. depression.

What is the difference between folic acid and folate? ›

The terms “folic acid” and “folate” often are used interchangeably. However, folate is a general term used to describe the many different forms of vitamin B9: folic acid, dihydrofolate (DHF), tetrahydrofolate (THF), 5, 10-methylenetetrahydrofolate (5, 10-MTHF), and 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF) 1.

What drinks have folic acid? ›

25 Beverages Highest in Folic acid
  • Energy Drink. ...
  • Energy Drink Sugar Free. ...
  • Whey Protein Powder Isolate. ...
  • 136.6mcg (34% ) in 14 fl oz. ...
  • Slimfast Meal Replacement High Protein Shake Ready-To-Drink 3-2-1 Plan. ...
  • Unilever Slimfast Meal Replacement Regular Ready-To-Drink 3-2-1 Plan. ...
  • Abbott Ensure Nutritional Shake Ready-To-Drink.

Which dry fruit has more folic acid? ›

Seeds like flaxseeds (146 mcg per serving) and sunflower seeds (104 mcg per serving), or nuts like almonds (48 mcg per serving) are rich in folate. You can simply consume these raw or add them to your salad for a healthy dose of folate.

Is Rice a folic acid? ›

As a good source of folic acid, enriched white rice is the perfect food choices for women of child- bearing age. A half-cup serving of cooked rice contains approximately 46 mcg, or 11.5 percent, of the 400 mcg Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for folic acid.

Does honey have folic acid? ›

The B Vitamins in Honey

Microchemical and microbiological determinations showed the presence in honey of thiamine, riboflavin, nicotinic acid, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, biotin, and folic acid.

Is broccoli high in folic acid? ›

A dinner time staple, broccoli is rich in many vitamins including potassium, vitamin C and fibre. Half a cup of cooked broccoli contains 52 micrograms of folic acid as well as potassium, vitamin C and fibre.

Do tomatoes have folic acid? ›

While it is recommended that women who are pregnant take a folic acid supplement, tomatoes are a great source of naturally-occurring folate.

Do boiled eggs have folic acid? ›

Eggs are a common breakfast food, high in many essential vitamins and minerals. Along with protein, selenium, riboflavin, and vitamin B12, one hardboiled egg contains 22mcg of folate.

Is coffee good for folic acid? ›

Caffeine is responsible for the homocysteine-increasing effects of coffee. These data suggest that a high caffeine intake would affect the bioavailability of folic acid and reduce serum folic acid levels.

Is cheese good for folic acid? ›

Most cheese varieties contain between 10 microg and 40 microg folate per kg, with slightly higher values for whey cheese. Ripened soft cheeses may contain up to 100 microg folate per 100 g.

What foods destroy folate? ›

Eating overcooked fruits and vegetables. Folate can be easily destroyed by heat.

Is yogurt good for folate? ›

Dairy products, especially fermented milk such as yogurt, are moderate folate sources.

Are onions high in folate? ›

Onions are also rich in B vitamins, including folate (B9) and pyridoxine (B6) — which play key roles in metabolism, red blood cell production and nerve function ( 4 ). Lastly, they're a good source of potassium, a mineral in which many people are lacking.

Does coffee have folate? ›

Plain coffee contains a small amount of micronutrients, including vitamins and minerals. A single serving has 118mg potassium, 7.2mg magnesium, 7.1mg of phosphorus, 0.1mg of manganese, 4.7mcg of folate, 6.2mg of choline, and 4.8mg sodium.

Does cucumber have folate? ›

Just one cucumber contains: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin D, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, Folic Acid, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, and enzymes.

Are blueberries folate? ›

Blueberries provide traditional nutrients-carbohydrates, fiber, vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, folic acid, iron and potassium.

Do Sweet potatoes have folic acid? ›

Folic acid: Pregnant women require 400mcg folic acid a day to prevent the risk of spinal cord defects. And half a cup of sweet potatoes contains 40 to 90mcg of folic acid (7).

What seafood is high in folic acid? ›

Crab and halibut

Seafood isn't just delicious, it's also packed with nutrients—folate, included. Just 3 ounces of Dungeness crab will get you 36 micrograms of folate.

Does olive oil have folic acid? ›

Extra virgin olive oil is considered the best grade to deliver healthy benefits because it is the least-processed of all olive oils. It could be described as natural olive juice.
...
SHOP OLIVE OIL NOW.
NutrientUnits1.00 X 1 jumbo ------- 8.3g
Vitamin B-6mg0.001
Folate, totalmcg0
Folic acidmcg0
Folate, foodmcg0
87 more rows

Do scrambled eggs have folate? ›

Eggs contain many essential nutrients, including folate. One large egg contains 23.5 mcg of folate, or 6% of the DV. They also contain protein, selenium, riboflavin, and vitamin B12.

Do eggs have folate or folic acid? ›

According to this study, one egg (60 g) may provide 40–86 µg of folates, which corresponds to 10–22% of the recommended daily intake for adults, 400 µg according to the Nutrition Standards for the Polish Population.

What is the difference between folate and folic acid? ›

The terms “folic acid” and “folate” often are used interchangeably. However, folate is a general term used to describe the many different forms of vitamin B9: folic acid, dihydrofolate (DHF), tetrahydrofolate (THF), 5, 10-methylenetetrahydrofolate (5, 10-MTHF), and 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF) 1.

What are the best food sources for folate and folic acid quizlet? ›

What are major food sources of folate? Mushrooms, green vegetables such as spinach, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, turnip and collard greens, and okra). Additional good sources of the vitamin are peanuts, legumes, lentils, fruits, and their juices, and liver.

What causes folate to drop? ›

Folate deficiency caused by a lack of dietary folate is more common in people who have a generally unbalanced and unhealthy diet, people who regularly misuse alcohol, and people following a fad diet that does not involve eating good sources of folate.

How do I know if I'm getting enough folate? ›

Common symptoms of folate deficiency can include: Tiredness, fatigue and lethargy. Muscle weakness. Neurological signs, such as a feeling of pins and needles, tingling, or burning, or peripheral neuropathy, i.e. a numbness in the extremities.

What diseases cause low folate? ›

Causes
  • Diseases in which folic acid is not well absorbed in the digestive system (such as celiac disease or Crohn disease)
  • Drinking too much alcohol.
  • Eating overcooked fruits and vegetables. ...
  • Hemolytic anemia.
  • Certain medicines (such as phenytoin, sulfasalazine, or trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole)
19 Jul 2021

Does sweet potato have folate? ›

One medium sweet potato will provide well over 100% of your daily needs for vitamin A, as well as 37% of vitamin C, 16% of vitamin B-6, 10% of pantothenic acid, 15% of potassium and 28% of manganese. You'll also find small amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin and folate.

Is B12 SAMe as folate? ›

Vitamin B12 or B9 (commonly called folate) deficiency anaemia occurs when a lack of vitamin B12 or folate causes the body to produce abnormally large red blood cells that can't function properly. Red blood cells carry oxygen around the body using a substance called haemoglobin.

How much folic acid should seniors take daily? ›

The recommendation for 400 μg/day of supplemental folic acid as part of a daily multivitamin/mineral supplement, in addition to a folate-rich diet, is especially important for older adults because blood homocysteine levels tend to increase with age.

Is vitamin B12 the SAMe as folic acid? ›

Vitamin B12 works closely with vitamin B9, also called folate or folic acid, to help make red blood cells and to help iron work better in the body. Folate and B12 work together to produce S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), a compound involved in immune function and mood.

Is breakfast cereal a good source of folate? ›

Breakfast cereal

Many cereals contain 100 percent of the daily value of folic acid in just one serving, so check the labels to find the best choice. Have a bowl of cereal in the morning with low-fat milk, or use dry cereal as a yogurt topping.

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