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Folate Facts: What It Is, Why You Need It, and Where to Get It

Folate Facts

Folate gets its name from the Latin word “folium” for leaf.  It’s a water-soluble B vitamin — also known as vitamin B9 — that occurs naturally in foods. Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate that is found in supplements and added to fortified foods.

We all need folate in our diets. Folate, like many other micronutrients, facilitates the activity of many other key nutrients and optimizes the interdependency on physiological function and health.

It helps make red blood cells, and if you don’t enough of it you can get a type of anemia. A key observation of researcher Lucy Wills nearly 70 years ago led to the identification of folate as the nutrient needed to prevent the anemia of pregnancy.

Folate Facts: How Much Do You Need?

  • 400 mcg / day — Adults, 19 years and older
  • 600 mcg / day — Pregnant women, 19 years and older
  • 500 mcg / day — Breastfeeding women, 19 years and older

Where to Find It?

Folate can be found in a lot of foods, including two of the original 24 SuperFoods: beans, broccoli, spinach and soy (edamame). You can also get good amounts from okra, artichoke, turnip greens, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, enriched pasta, eggs and peanuts. Even some breakfast cereals contain folate, but like with enriched pastas, you may not be interested in eating foods that have folate added to them.

Check out our quick guide to folate foods.

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