What Are The Best Sources of Folate?
What is Folate?
Folate is a member of the large and sometimes confusing family of water-soluble B vitamins and is also called vitamin B9. It works closely with other B vitamins, especially B12 and B6. And it’s important in the formation of red blood cells, for the healthy growth and function of cells, and for protein and amino acid metabolism. Having enough folate is especially crucial in pregnancy.
Before I give you the answer, let’s test your Latin: where does the word “folate” come from? If you thought of foals (baby horses), you’re on the wrong track. The word “folate” originates from the Latin word “folium”, which means leaf, as in foliage. This makes sense when you examine what types of foods tend to contain the most natural folates.
Some of the most folate-rich food sources are leafy green and cruciferous vegetables, as well as tofu and legumes (beans, peas, and lentils).
Below are some fantastic folate-rich foods to include in your diet, plus how much vitamin B9 they contain.
- Broccoli, 1 cup cooked: 78 mcg
- Collard greens, 1 cup cooked: 177 mcg
- Black-eyed peas, 1 cup canned: 122 mcg
- Lentils, 1 cup cooked from dried: 358 mcg
- Asparagus, 4 spears cooked: 88 mcg
- Spinach, 1 cup cooked: 263 mcg
- Split peas, 1 cup cooked from dry: 127 mcg
- Tofu, ¼ block: 27 mcg
Folate bioavailability varies substantially, depending on where you’re getting it from. The bioavailability of folate naturally present in healthy foods like these is around 50%. This means that about half of what you consume this way is absorbable and ready to be used by your body.
The EPIC-Oxford Study showed that vegans had the highest amounts of folate in their bodies. But simply following a vegan diet doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you’re getting enough folate. A box of Oreos washed down with a liter of Fresca (I know, a horrifying combination) may be vegan, but it won’t meet your folate needs. Since there’s not much folate in most animal products, vegans have the upper hand – but only if they base their diet around folate-rich plant foods.
Furthermore, folate metabolism needs vitamin B12 to occur properly, so getting enough B12 is also crucial.
(Excerpt from the Food Revolution Network)