Folate sources

The best sources of folate are liver, brewer's yeast and dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale. Dried beans, green vegetables, oranges, avocados and whole wheat products are also good sources.

Food processing such as boiling and heating can destroy folic acid. It can also be destroyed by being stored unprotected at room temperature for long periods.

Food fortification with folic acid

Since January, 1998, commercial grain products in the USA have been enriched with 140 mcg of folic acid per 100 g of grain product. It is estimated that this will deliver an average increase in intake of 100 mcg per day. Breakfast cereals may contain up to a daily dose of folic acid.

There has been concern that fortifying foods with folic acid would increase the risk of permanent damage from vitamin B12 deficiency due to the fact that high folic acid intakes can mask this deficiency. However, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1996 suggests that the benefits of folic acid fortification, which include reduced risk of stroke and heart disease, outweigh the risk of masked vitamin B12 deficiency. Researchers at Tufts University, Boston, looked at the food intakes and blood folate and homocysteine concentrations of almost 750 people aged 67 to 96 years. From these results they predicted the value of adding folic acid to grain products and the effect on cardiovascular disease and vitamin B12-related disorders. Their results suggest that fortification at a level of 140 mcg per 100 g of grain product would reduce the risk of coronary artery disease by 5 per cent.

Folate sourcesA1998 study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine provides further support for the possibility of reducing homocysteine levels by fortifying foods with folic acid. Researchers assessed the effects of breakfast cereals fortified with three levels of folic acid in a randomized, double-blind, placebo- controlled, crossover trial in 75 men and women with coronary artery disease. The results showed that folic acid increased and plasma homocysteine decreased in proportion to the folic acid content of the cereal. Cereal providing 127 mcg of folic acid daily, (which is about the amount that would result from the FDA's enrichment policy) decreased plasma homocysteine by only 3.7 per cent. However, cereals providing 499 and 665 mcg of folic acid daily decreased plasma homocysteine by 11 per cent and 14 per cent respectively.

These results suggest that folic acid fortification at levels higher than that recommended by the FDA may be necessary to effectively reduce homocysteine levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Food

Amount

Folate (mcg)

Chicken liver, cooked

1/2cup,

chopped

512

Lentils, cooked

1 cup

340

Black-eyed peas, cooked

1 cup

200

Beef liver, fried

85g

187

Spinach, cooked

1 cup

249

Navy beans, cooked

1 cup

242

Kidney beans

1 cup

218

Peanuts

1/2cup

166

Turnip greens, cooked

1 cup

162

Lima beans, cooked

1 cup

148

Fortified oats, ready to eat

1 cup

142

Avocado

1 fruit

124

Peas, cooked

1 cup

96.0

Asparagus, cooked

4 spears

87.6

Yellow corn

1 cup

72.3

Orange juice

1 cup

71.3

Papaya

1 cup,

cubes

50.4

Brussels sprouts

1/2cup

44.7

Wheat bran

1 cup

43.5

Almonds

1/2cup,

whole

39.6

Cos lettuce

1/2cup,

shredded

38.0

Oranges

1 medium

39.7

Walnuts

1/2cup,

chopped

37.6

 
 
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Folate
Folate health
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Folate sources
Folate recommended daily
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Other Vitamins:

Vitamin A
Carotenes
Beta carotene
Lycopene
Lutein
Thiamin
Riboflavin
Niacin
Vitamin B6
Folate
Vitamin B12
Biotin
Pantothenic acid
Vitamin C
Vitamin D
Vitamin E
Vitamin K