Folate in your Diet
2,500 newborns in the United States are born each year with neural tube defects such as spina bifida. By consuming adequate daily amounts of folate or folic acid, through a varied diet, fortified foods and supplements these birth defects can be prevented.
How much folate is needed?
In addition to eating folate-rich food from a varied diet, The National Academy of Sciences recommends that all women capable of becoming pregnant consume 400 micrograms of folic acid from fortified foods and/or supplements. But the average intake of folate by American women is still no more than 200 micrograms.
The actual folate requirement for pregnancy rises to 600 micrograms per day and during breast-feeding, 500 micrograms is advised. It's important to get at least 400 micrograms from fortified foods or supplements and the remaining 200 micrograms can come from foods with naturally occurring folate.
Where is folate found?
Folate is found in leafy vegetables, beans, lentils, orange juice, nuts and seeds. Folic acid, the synthetic form of folate, is used in vitamin supplements. Since January 1998, enriched grain products sold in the United States, such as cereals and pasta, have been fortified with folic acid. The only foods that contain folate in the form of folic acid are fortified grain products.
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