What is Folate?

By Tash Hughes of Word Constructions

Folate is a vitamin recommended to be taken by all women who could possibly get pregnant. It is also known as folic acid and vitamin B9.

Taking folate daily before and during early pregnancy reduces the risk of the embryo developing a neural tube defect (NTD) such as spina bifida and anencephaly.

It is also believed to be of use in preventing other birth defects and other illnesses such as heart disease and colon cancer.

How much folate?

It is recommended that all women take 400 micrograms of folate each day. This amount is often included in a multi vitamin or can be taken as a folate tablet by itself. Various foods naturally contain folate and other foods are now fortified with folate in the manufacturing process.

The USA Institute of Medicine suggest that pregnant women increase their folate intake to 600 micrograms a day, whilst breastfeeding Mothers need 500 micrograms.

Women with a previous child having a NTD are given much higher doses of folate in early pregnancy, but this should only be done under medical supervision.

Folate is not toxic in high quantities so there are no worries about an overdose. However, high levels of folate in the body can hide a lack of B12. Pernicious anaemia is uncommon and mostly effects older people, but it is still advisable to not take too much folate for a prolonged period.

orange juice

Where do I get folate from?

Folate is found naturally in a range of foods. The highest level is in green leafy vegetables such as spinach, lettuce and kale, but it is also found in:

* Orange juice
* Citrus fruits and juices
* Broccoli
* Beans
* Lentils
* Peanuts
* Peas
* Asparagus
* Avocado

To get the most folate out of food, it is best eaten raw, fresh and before it has been stored for very long. Boiling in water also destroys folate, so food is best cooked in a stir fry or steamed.

Folic acid (the synthetic version) is now added to some foods, such as

* Bread
* Breakfast cereal
* Rice
* Bread
* Flour
* Pasta
* Cornmeal

Folic acid is also available as part of multi-vitamin tablets and as separate tablets.

Folic acid is more readily absorbed and used by our bodies than folate; 170 micrograms of folate in food or 100micrograms of folic acid is equally available for our bodies.

It can be difficult to get enough folate from foods so a supplement is the most effective way to increase your folate levels. Taking a multi vitamin or folate tablet each day and including folate rich foods in your diet will protect any future babies as well as provide you with health benefits.

About the Author

Mother of two, Melbourne writer, Tash Hughes writes articles on health and family issues for ezines, websites and magazines. Tash also owns Word Constructions to help business owners have a professional presentation on paper and on the internet. For all your business writing needs, contact Word Constructions then get on with business.

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