Folic acid, also known as vitamin B9 or folate, is a water-soluble vitamin that is vital to the human body. Your body needs folic acid to make red blood cells, to synthesize and repair DNA and to regulate cell metabolism. Women should be extremely attentive to their folic acid intake during pregnancy because it is crucial to the development of fetus. Your body cannot produce its own folic acid, so the best way to keep you from folic acid deficiency is regular intake of folat- rich foods.
The Food and Nutrition Board recommends that an average adult takes at least 400 micrograms of folic acid every day. You don't have to worry about taking too much because folic acid is water soluble, and and any excess of this quantity will be excreted through urine. Below are the six groups of super folate providers you need to keep in mind for the next grocery trip.
1. Leafy Vegetables
Leafy vegetables are loaded with antioxidants, phytonutrients and a variety of essential vitamins and minerals that your body depends on for cellular structure and function. In terms of folic acid content, the darker and leafier vegetables are especially high in folic acid. One extra tip for maximizing the benefit you get from these veggies is that folic acids are contained within the cell walls of these vegetables. With some light cooking, you can break the cell walls so that the nutrient can be released for better absorption. Remember not to overcook them though, folic acids are water soluble and are sensitive to heat. Overcooking can compensate their integrity.
- Spinach: one cup of raw spinach gives you 58 mcg of folic acid and just ½ cup of lightly cooked spinach provides you with 131 mcg of folic acid.
- Asparagus: six spears or ½ cup of cut raw asparagus contains 50 mcg of folic acid. And with some added heat, you can get 134 mcg of folic acid out of them.
2. Beans and Legumes
Beans and legumes are also nutritionally dense. They are rich in proteins, potassium, calcium and lots of essential vitamins. They can be hard to digest if eaten raw, so it would be better if you have them boiled or steamed.
- Lentils: ½ cup of cooked lentils contains 180 mcg of folic acid, almost ½ of the recommended daily intake (%DV).
- Peas: one cup of cooked peas contains 100 mcg of folic acid.
3. Fortified Cereals and Breads
Manufactures of cereals and breads enrich their product with proteins, vitamins and other nutrients. Some add as much as 100% DV of folic acid per serving of cereal. Check the product label to ensure that you are getting enough folic acid.
4. Citrus Fruits and Juices
Citrus fruits are naturally high in folate. A medium-sized orange will generally yield about 20% DV of folic acid. Lots of juices, from concentrated or not, are also fortified with extra folate.
5. Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds, which are high in calories and fat, are superbly rich in folate. About a ½ cup of sunflower seeds can yield about 20% DV of folate.
Liver of a pig, cow or lamb are high in cholesterol, but they are also extremely nutrient dense especially when it comes to folate. 100 g of braise beef liver has about 70% DV of folic acid.