Are you getting enough Folate?

One of the most nutritionally significant naturally occurring vitamins is folate, or in fortified foods or most supplements, folic acid. It is extremely important in the diet. For example, synthesis of DNA and RNA; conversion of homocysteine to methionine; methylation of deoxyuridylate to thymidylate in the formation of DNA. Damn important right!

There are various forms of folate in food available. Two examples are 5-Methyltetrahydrofolate or 5-formyl-tetrahydrofolate. Big scientific names for type of folate that are essential for your survival. You want to have this in your diet and not be deficient.

How much?

The Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) for adults is 400 µg (micrograms or mcg). 

To get 100% of your RDI choose one of the following quantity of foods:

  • 30g Chicken, Duck or Goose liver
  • 60g Mung beans uncooked
  • 100g Flowering Choy sum (raw)
  • 150g Flowering Choy sum (cooked)
  • 100g Red Kidney beans uncooked
  • Less than 20g Vegemite
  • 100g Fortified Whole wheat breakfast cereal
  • 4 slices of white or brown bread

Sources of folate?

The sources of folate or folic acid differ as to does the bioavailability. Bioavailability of folates in food (50-60%); in supplementation or fortification (85%). It’s pretty unlikely you are deficient in folate, but if you always eat a wide variety of nutrient dense foods you should be fine. This just confirms the need to eat enough fresh food including dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, fruit, nuts, and eggs so you won’t need to supplement. We all know food tastes better than pills anyway.

The best sources of folate from food

      • Chicken liver is one of the top sources. Chicken liver pate?
      • Nori seaweed. Seaweed snacks! Sushi anyone?
      • Beef and lamb livers. Pan fried, paprika crusted liver and onions?
      • Asian vegetables especially Mizuna and Tatsoi (pictured)
      • English spinach.
      • Mung beans. Simmer slowly and eat hot in a stew, curry or like mushy peas, or cold through salads.
      • Vegemite. You either love it of love it less 😉
      • Black eyed peas (cowpeas), red kidney beans, broad beans (all legumes)
      • Fortified breakfast cereals
      • All wheat bread (including English muffins, rolls, flat bread). Folate addition in organic breads are not mandatory so check the label.

Try these other Asian vegetables

  • Choy sum (flowering and non-flowering)
  • Kang kong
  • Snake beans
  • Gai lan
  • Gai choy
  • Pak choy
  • Buk choy
  • Wombok
  • Are you skipping bread and cereals?

    If you’re avoiding bread (only the wheat varieties) which has mandatory fortification with folic acid (not organic bread) and you think your diet may not be up to scratch, see the list of good sources. Many cereals have voluntary folic acid added. If there is no label, and it is bread made from wheat it will have folic acid.

    Why is folate so important?

    Research has indicated that adequate folate intake may minimise the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, breast and colon cancers, depression, dementia, cleft lip/palate and hearing loss. It is imperative in preventing Neural Tube Defects (NTDs) in pregnancy. So, if you’re pregnant you’re definitely going to want to make sure you’re getting enough from a well-balanced healthy diet. If you’re thinking about conception it’s even more important to guarantee your folate through diet or folic acid supplementation. Smoking, alcohol and many other conditions, including some genetic abnormalities can affect absorption. Something to seriously consider. Folate is one of many vitamins and minerals essential for proper functioning of the body.

    Cooking

    Green vegetables: Eat raw, steam, stir fry or roast to retain as many nutrients as possible. Folate is water soluble hence why boiling vegetables is the very last option.

    Liver: Eat pate. Or fried by coating in seasoned flour cooking as if cooking steak, medium or medium rare is probably best. Top with fried onions or onion rings and a nice meaty type sauce.

    Raw food

    Fruit: Always eat fruit whole, local and in season. Local seasonal foods can be hard to distinguish from shipped-across-the-country-foods. Try Farmers Markets or check the state it was grown in.

    If you’re in Lutwyche City try Farm Fresh located on Level G, right next to The Source Bulk Foods, opposite Woolworths as they have a great selection of Asian vegetables.

    Sources:

    Avis Houlihan, Matthew Pyke, Pieter Scheelings, Glenn Graham, Geoffrey Eaglesham, Tim O’Hare, Lung Wong, Prapasri Puwastien & Wasinee Jongjitsin (2011). Folate content of Asian vegetables. Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation.
    http://era.daf.qld.gov.au/id/eprint/3046/1/10-167.pdf

    Food Standards Australia New Zealand (2016). Folic acid – mandatory folic acid fortification. Retrieved on 14 August 2020 from:
    https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/nutrition/folicmandatory/Pages/default.aspx

    National Institute of Health (2020). Folate. US Department of Health & Human Services. Retrieved 14 August 2020 from:
    https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Folate-HealthProfessional/

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