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Vitamin Directory - Folate

DK PublishingDK Publishing 2/07/2014 DKBooks
Photo: Cabbage - This is a superfood. Rich in folate, cabbage is also a good source of beta-carotene (a precursor of vitamin A), vitamin C, fiber, and cancer-fighting phytochemicals. © Provided by DKBooks Cabbage - This is a superfood. Rich in folate, cabbage is also a good source of beta-carotene (a precursor of vitamin A), vitamin C, fiber, and cancer-fighting phytochemicals.

Cabbage - This is a superfood. Rich in folate, cabbage is also a good source of beta-carotene (a precursor of vitamin A), vitamin C, fiber, and cancer-fighting phytochemicals.

Folate

Daily requirement
men: 0.4mg per day
women: 0.4mg per day

Another of the B vitamins, also called folacin or folic acid and abbreviated to Fol, folate cannot be made by the body and must therefore come from food or supplements. Folate plays a vital role in making DNA (the substance that makes up our genes) and RNA (a substance needed to make proteins), in normal growth and development, and in the production of new cells. It works with vitamin B12 to form hemoglobin for red blood cells, and helps convert the amino acid homocysteine to methionine.

A good supply of folate prior to and in early pregnancy reduces the risk of the baby developing a neural tube defect such as spina bifida.


Folate deficiency

A deficiency of folate is common today since many people consume diets high in fat and processed foods and eat less than the daily recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables. A folate deficiency occurs in people with an intestinal disorder in which they cannot absorb this and other vitamins, such as Crohn’s disease. Folate deficiency in older people may be the result of a poor diet and aging. In addition, older people produce lower amounts of the stomach acid necessary for the digestion of folate.

Certain medications, such as antacids, cimetidine, sulfasalazine, and phenytoin, and alcohol affect the body’s ability to take up folate. In addition, the cancer drug methotrexate blocks the action of folate in the body.

Lack of folate causes a type of anemia called megaloblastic anemia with symptoms such as fatigue, pale skin, and shortness of breath on mild exertion. Other symptoms include sore mouth, diarrhea, weight loss, and heartburn. A deficiency also results in raised levels of homocysteine (an amino acid), which may lead to cardiovascular disease.


Good sources

Folate

This is found naturally in all these foods, which contain at least 0.03mg of folate per 3–7oz (85–200g):

Corn

Asparagus

Brussels sprouts

Cabbage

Cauliflower

Fresh green vegetables

Green peas

Spinach

Oranges

Liver

Black-eyed peas

Black beans

Chickpeas

Lentils

Pinto beans

Kidney beans

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