The richest foods in folate (folic acid) are spices, herbs, seeds, nuts, beans, dark green leafy vegetables, whole grains, and beer! We can get more than enough folate from food. Most healthy people who follow a well-balanced diet don’t need folic acid supplements.
Health benefits of folate (or folic acid)
Both folate and folic acid are different forms of vitamin B9. Folate is naturally present in food. On the other hand, dietary supplements contain folic acid. The synthetic form of vitamin B9.
Folate (or folic acid or vitamin B9) has many health benefits. It’s involved in protein metabolism, cell division, and serotonin synthesis.
Additionally, folic acid is important for weight loss.
Also, folate seems to prevent the development of certain types of cancer, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke! Mainly, due to its effect on reducing elevated homocysteine levels.
Moreover, vitamin B9 seems to play a key role in mood and cognitive function.
The recommended daily intake of folate
The daily recommended dose for folate from food is 400 mcg, both for women and men. Only pregnant women need higher dosages.
On the other hand, if you take dietary supplements, you probably need lower dosages. Folic acid from supplements is more bioavailable, as compared to folate from food.
It’s estimated that 85% of folic acid from supplements is absorbed. But, only about 50% of folate of food is bioavailable.
In any case, high dosages of folic acid from supplements may be bad for you. The upper safe dose for folic acid is 1,000 mcg a day. But, you probably need even lower dosages.
Can I get too much folate from food sources?
On the contrary, consuming a great variety of foods rich in folate has no side effects. Food doesn’t cause vitamin B9 toxicity.
The richest foods in folate from animal sources
As a rule of thumb, foods from animal sources aren’t high in folate. Only liver is particularly rich in folate, containing 260 mcg per 100g.
Most common foods contain low amounts of folate. For instance, milk has only 12 mcg of folate per cup, while an egg has only 24 mcg.
Meat, poultry, and seafood contain negligible amounts of folate.
Plants are the richest foods in folate
Actually, plants are the best dietary sources of folate!
First, spices and herbs, such as basil, rosemary, parsley, and oregano are particularly rich in folate. Actually, herbs and spices are the most-nutrient-dense foods. They’re packed with vitamins and health-promoting phytochemicals, containing only a few calories.
Nuts and seeds are excellent food sources of folate as well. Peanuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flaxseeds, and almonds are pretty high in folate.
|basil, dried||310||bread, barley||65|
|oregano, dried||237||pumpkin seeds||58|
|turnip greens||194||bread, rye||51|
|peanut butter||92||rice, wild||26|
|white beans||81||beet leaves||15|
Moreover, dark green leafy vegetables are among the richest foods in folate. Spinach, turnip greens, broccoli leaves, kale, and lettuce are all high in folate.
Also, bread with whole grains (wheat, barley, or rye) significantly contributes to the total folate intake. For instance, just a slice of whole wheat bread has about 13 mcg of folate, or the 3% of the daily recommended intake.
Last, but not least, beans are great dietary sources of folate. For instance, lentils, chickpeas, soybeans, white beans, green peas, and black-eyed peas are pretty high in folate.
Certainly, you could boost your daily folate intake, consuming fortified foods. Cereal and pasta are common foods enriched with folic acid. Folic acid is pretty stable in heat and light. Additionally, it’s more bioavailable than the natural form (folate).
Hence, you better avoid taking supplements with folic acid, if you regularly consume fortified foods or follow a diet high in folate. Above all, you better consult your health care provider before taking any supplement or drastically changing your diet.
Can we get high doses of folate from beverages?
All beverages are poor in folate. Only beer contains tiny amounts of folate. A glass of beer provides about 5% of the daily recommended intake. As beer is consumed in large amounts by many people, it could contribute to the daily folate intake.
On the contrary, other common beverages, such as coffee, wine, or chamomile tea contain only negligible doses of folate.