Folic acid plays a key role in the formation of red blood cells, and it is naturally found in a wide variety of food items. The only thing that we have to keep in mind is that folic acid can be lost during cooking, and one should consciously avoid overcooking of food containing folic acid to avoid its loss. One can also choose to microwave or steam vegetables instead of boiling them.
Not getting enough folic acid can lead to other severe health issues like folate-deficiency anemia, so it is important to ensure the consumption of an adequate amount.
The recommended dietary intake or the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)
- Teenage boys and girls between the ages 14-19 and adults should consume 400 micrograms daily to prevent folate deficiency
- Pregnant women are to have 600 mcg daily to prevent folate deficiency. If a woman has enough folic acid in her body, it can help to prevent major spine- and brain-related birth defects in the baby when she gets pregnant.
- Lactating women should have 500 mcg daily to prevent folate deficiency
Some of the food items that are rich in folic acid and should be a part of the daily diet of those who have folate deficiency are:
- Legumes: Most legumes contain significant amounts of folic acid. A cup of cooked kidney beans contains 131 mcg of folic acid, and lentils contain about 358 mcg. Beef liver is one of the significant sources of folic acid, and 85 grams of the liver can provide about 212 mcg of folic acid.
- Asparagus: Half a cup (90 grams) of cooked asparagus contains 134 mcg of folic acid. Combining it with your meals once or twice a day is a great way of reducing folate deficiency.
- Beets: One cup (136 grams) of raw beets provide about 148 mcg of folic acid.
- Wheat germ: One ounce provides about 78.7 mcg of folic acid.
- Eggs: An egg contains 23.5 mcg of folic acid and is a good source to tackle folate deficiency. You can include 2 eggs in your daily diet in any form you like.
- Leafy greens: Arugula, spinach, and kale are good sources of folic acid, and a cup of spinach provides about 58.2 mcg of folic acid.
- Fortified foods: Many varieties of bread and pasta are fortified with folic acid. You should check the ingredients to see how much folic acid is present in the food products you buy.
Other food items that are a good source of folic acid are Brussels sprouts, wheat germ, papaya, bananas, and avocado. A salad with the above-mentioned vegetables along with pasta or fortified bread is a healthy meal option for those with folate deficiency.
Nuts and seeds also have folic acid, and you can consume them as a snack or when your RDA falls short by about 25-30 mcg of folic acid. They are also good sources of protein, minerals, and fiber.