It’s a new year, full of fresh starts, endless potential, and healthy routines. One great way to kick off the year is to examine your diet to ensure you’re getting the nutrients needed to support optimal wellness.
National Folic Acid Awareness Week takes place every January. This year it is the week of January 5 – the perfect time to evaluate if you’re getting enough of this crucial micronutrient.
Folate vs. Folic Acid
First, it is important to know the difference between folate and folic acid. Folate, or vitamin B9, is necessary for the formation of red blood cells and for maintaining overall cellular health. Folate is a nutrient found in natural food sources such as spinach, green beans, bell peppers, strawberries, and other fruits and vegetables mentioned below.
Folic acid is the synthetic version of the compound, which is considered more bioavailable than natural sources of folate.
Experts recommend that adults get at least 400 micrograms (mcg) of folate per day, and women who are pregnant or nursing need roughly 500 mcg. To ensure adequate folate intake, it’s important to know why your body needs this nutrient, which foods contain folate naturally, and which folic acid supplements can help you bridge the gap.
For the purposes of this article, we’ll refer to the folic acid found in dietary supplements.
Research shows that folic acid is crucial for supporting heart health. Ensuring adequate levels of folic acid intake may also decrease your risk of a cardiac event. Folate may also enhance brain function, helping you ward off mental decline, and mood instability.
Folic Acid in Pregnancy
You may have heard about the importance of folic acid during pregnancy. Folic acid is a crucial nutrient for women in their reproductive years and is used to help the body increase blood production during pregnancy.
Doctors recommend that all women their reproductive years take folic to support a healthy pregnancy. However, men can also benefit from taking folate acid supplements.
Natural Sources of Folate
Looking to add more natural folate to your diet? Toss these foods into your cart on your next shopping trip.
Legumes: Foods like beans and lentils contain a high percentage of your daily recommended dose of folate. For example, a cup of cooked kidney beans has 33% of your Recommended Daily Intake (RDI), while one cup of cooked lentils contains 90%.
Asparagus: This tender, spring vegetable is not only delicious but packed with folate. In fact, a half-cup of cooked asparagus contains about 33% of your RDI.
Citrus Fruit: Juicy, sweet, and full of flavor, fruits like oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes are more than a great snack. One large orange contains contains roughly 14% RDI of folate.
Broccoli and Brussels Sprouts: Both members of the cruciferous vegetable family, these leafy green veggies are packed with vital nutrients, including folate! A half-cup of cooked broccoli contains 21% of your RDI.
Folic Acid Supplements to Fill in the Gaps
It’s not always easy, or even feasible to pack all of the foods we discussed above into your daily diet. Here are some quality, trusted supplements to help you ensure adequate intake of the synthetic form of folate, known as folic acid.
Folic Acid from Pure Encapsulations: Vitamins B12 and folic acid are interrelated, which is why B12 Folic Acid from Pure Encapsulations contains 800 mcg B12 folic acid provided as methylcobalamin, a highly bioavailable form of folic acid.
Folic Acid by Solaray: Folic Acid from Solaray provides 800 mcg of folic acid in an easy-to-swallow, vegetarian capsule. Just one daily dose can help you ensure you’re getting enough folic acid in your daily diet.
Folic Acid from Douglas Laboratories: Every batch of Folic Acid from Douglas Laboratories contains 400 mcg of folic acid and is manufactured without the use of most common food allergens, including milk/dairy, wheat, and gluten.
Does your diet contain enough food-sourced folate? What supplements do you use to ensure you’re getting enough of this essential micronutrient in its synthetic form as folic acid? Share your favorite foods and supplements with us in the comments section below.