Folate - Do I need to supplement Folic Acid?
Hey all! Welcome back to another blog post.
I hope you are well.
This blog post will cover Folic Acid. What it is, why we need it and how we can get it
What is Folic Acid?
Folic acid is a synthetic version of Vitamin B9, also known as Folate.
Folate or Folic acid, works together with Vitamin B12 to help the body make healthy red blood cells. They also work together to support nerves in functioning properly.
A deficiency can reduce the ability of red blood cells to carry oxygen, this is called ‘macrocytic’ (large cell) anaemia.
Folic acid is also an important compound in the formation of DNA, that is in every cell of the body, allowing each cell to replicate perfectly.
How can we get Folic Acid?
Folate is found naturally in a wide variety of foods, and is also present in foods fortified with folic acid.
As it is a water-soluble vitamin (dissolves easily in water), it is lost from vegetables during cooking. This can be reduced by avoiding over-cooking, and steaming or microwaving vegetables instead of boiling.
Dietary sources of Folic Acid:
Spinach, kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli
Beans and legumes (e.g. peas, blackeye beans)
Yeast and beef extracts
Oranges and orange juice
Wheat bran and other whole grain foods
Poultry, pork, shellfish and liver
Fortified foods (e.g. some brands of breakfast cereals – check the label)
How much Folic Acid do I need?
Public Health England recommends that adults need 200ug of folate per day. The requirements may differ depending on a few factors, such as pregnancy, age and health considerations.
For example, this amount increases if pregnant, at a higher risk of neural tube defects, breastfeeding or considering pregnancy.
It should be consumed regularly in the diet as we are unable to store folate in the long term. A supplement should be considered when pregnant, considering pregnancy or if unable to reach the recommended amounts.
The current daily recommendations for Folate (Folic acid) intake:
(μg = micrograms)
Adults and children over 11 years: 200μg
Anyone considering pregnancy: 200μg plus a supplement* containing 400μg
During Pregnancy: a 400μg supplement during atleast the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. This is to reduce the risk of problems in the baby's development in the early weeks of pregnancy. It is also recommended that you take a daily vitamin D supplement.
When Breastfeeding: 260μg
If you are not likely to become pregnant, you should be able to obtain sufficient amounts of folate in your diet by eating a healthy diet containing a wide variety of foods.