Good day, Smart Moms!
Until recently, I really didn’t know the difference between folate and folic acid (I thought they were two different things for a while). I figured that it was an essential nutrient for you, and I knew you couldn’t make it yourself. But I still didn’t know what they were or why I needed them.
Now, I don’t like to be lost or in the dark (I’ve got too much anxiety for that), so I did some research. And now I want to share what I learned with you!
Folate, also known as vitamin B9, is an essential vitamin that our body doesn’t produce by itself. The synthetic form, ie. the cheaper version, is folic acid. So they are one and the same, folic acid is just synthetically produced. (1)
Vitamin B9’s active form is known as levomefolic acid or 5-methyletrahydrofolate (5-MTHF). This is the form that dietary folate gets converted to in the digestive system before it makes it into the blood stream. So that is the type of folate most easily absorbed and utilized by your body. (2)
Folic acid, also known as pteroylmonoglutamic acid, is the synthetic form of vitamin B9. Most foods like cereal and whole grains are fortified with this form of B9. However, folic acid is not efficiently absorbed by our bodies. Because it is not converted to 5-MTHF form, it is processed in the liver and other tissues.
And even small doses may not be completely metabolized by the time it enters the blood stream. This causes some to have high levels of folic acid that hasn’t been broken down and metabolized in their blood which can lead to health problems. Taking folic acid with other B vitamins can aid in the conversion and metabolic processes. (2)
Put simply, folate (5-MTHF) is the natural and easily processed form of folate our body uses and folic acid is the synthetic version that our body does not break down and absorb as easily.
If you feel a little frustrated right now, that’s normal. I know I was feeling like I had wasted a bunch of time thinking I had been getting enough from the standard multi-vitamin.
Folate helps to prevent deformation of fetuses and the development of Alzheimer’s and different types of cancer. Deficiency in this vitamin is linked with mental illnesses such as depression. Folate preforms many functions for your body such as nucleotide biosynthesis in cells, red blood cell production, DNA repair and synthesis, and it helps to prevent anemia. (1)
So it’s a pretty darn important nutrient!
I wish this kind of information was more common knowledge. Then we could all take better care of ourselves! Or at least be aware that the nutrients we think we are getting may not be all that great or efficiently absorbed.
Our bodies need folate and, since it doesn’t produce it on its own, it’s necessary we take care of getting it ourselves.
So I went to Natural Grocers and found a 5-MTHF folate supplement to take with my other vitamins.
And then I researched natural foods that have enough folate.
Surprisingly, I found that it is actually pretty achievable to get your daily needs through your every day food. Theoretically, if you are eating healthy, that is.
Especially if you’re supplementing as well.
Food Sources for Folate
My source for the amount of folate in each serving size and in which foods is taken almost directly from the websites listed in the sources. They have some excellent knowledge and articles to look over. Trot over there and give them a try sometime.
Leafy Greens and Veggies
Leafy greens are amazing for you. You should be having lots of them daily anyways! And chances are, if you’re eating a large plate of them, you’re getting all your folate needs. I try to get my veggies locally if I don’t grow them myself. My mother told me to always wash fruits and veggies, just to be careful. Then I let them dry for a while before I make my huge bowl of weekly salad or bag them to use during the week.
- Spinach: I cup = 263 mcg folate (65% DV)
- Collard Greens: 1 cup = 177 mcg folate (44% DV)
- Turnip Greens: 1 cup = 170 mcg folate (42% DV)
- Mustard Greens: 1 cup = 103 mcg of folate (26% DV)
- Romaine Lettuce: 1 cup = 76 mcg folate (19% DV)
- Asparagus: 1 cup = 262 mcg of folate (65% DV)
- Broccoli: 1 cup = (24% DV)
- Avocado: 1 cup = 90 mcg folate (22% DV)
- Okra: 1 cup = 37 mcg folate
- Brussel Sprout: 1 cup = (25% DV)
- Cauliflower: 1 cup = 55 mcg folate (14% DV)
- Beets: 1 cup = 136 mcg folate (34% DV)
- Corn: 1 cup = 76 mcg folate (20% DV)
- Celery: 1 cup = 34 mcg folate (8% DV)
- Carrots: 1 cup = (5% DV)
- Winter squash: 1 cup = 57 mcg folate (14% DV)
- Summer squash: 1 cup = 36 mcg folate (9% DV)
Lentils, Beans, and Peas, Oh My!
Mix and match with leafy greens and veggies to really up your folate power. I like eating beans and spinach and green beans together with vinegar and some salt.
- Lentils: 1 cup = 358 mcg folate (90% DV)
- Pinto beans: 1 cup = 294 mcg folate (74% DV)
- Garbanzo beans: 1 cup = 282 mcg folate (71% DV)
- Black beans: 1 cup = 256 mcg folate (64% DV)
- Navy beans: 1 cup = 254 mcg folate (64% DV)
- Kidney beans: 1 cup = 229 mcg folate (57% DV)
- Lima beans: 1 cup = 156 mcg folate (39% DV)
- Split peas: 1 cup = 127 mcg folate (32% DV)
- Green peas: 1 cup = 101 mcg folate (25% DV)
- Green beans: 1 cup = 42 mcg folate (10% DV)
Yummy to my tummy always! They don’t have as much folate as the leafy greens, veggies, and beans but they do have folate!
- Papaya: One papaya = 115 mcg folate (29% DV)
- Oranges: One orange – 40 mcg folate (10% DV)
- Grapefruit: One grapefruit = 30 mcg folate (8% DV)
- Strawberries: 1 cup = 25 mcg folate (6.5% DV)
- Raspberries: 1 cup = 14 mcg folate (4% DV)
There are a lot of different options to get your folate in in the most natural way possible. If you want to make sure your supplement is safe, talk to your doctor about it. Like I said, I use both the 5-MTHF supplement and try to get in a good amount of folate with my food as well.
Getting your kids to eat a lot of the high folate foods on here might be a bit tougher. I recommend using the smoothie post to look at some awesome green smoothies you and your whole family will enjoy! Trust me, my kids love the weird look and delicious taste of green smoothies. Plus they are packed with essential nutrients. Include a lot of spinach in with your smoothie and your kids will be sure to get a decent amount of folate.
Street Smart Favorites
Research also shows that it’s a good idea to keep Folic Acid pills on hand during pregnancy, because it’s so important to keeping mamma healthy and letting baby develop properly! I usually go overboard on making sure I’m doing everything humanly possible to make myself and my family healthy, so I love incorporating these vitamins in addition to a healthy diet. I’m so excited to have a new vitamin to keep on hand! Health nut moms unite!