Folate is the term used for various naturally occurring folate compounds. Folate is one of the water-soluble vitamins.
Folic acid is a term that is particularly well known. However, folic acid is only the synthetic form that is used in food or supplements (vitamin supplements) due to its stability.
Good sources of folate are food of plant origin, especially green vegetables and salads. However, also food products of animal origin such as liver or egg yolks provide folate. Although, meat, fish and fruits are poor in folate.
Folates are very sensitive to light and oxygen. Vitamin losses can be reduced in foods by storing the food as natural as possible (little or no processing) in air-tight containers and in a dark place.
Pregnant and lactating women have increased needs for folate. Larger amounts are required for tissue growth during pregnancy and breast milk vitamin loss which occurs during breastfeeding.
Folate content of foods and the daily requirements are specified as equivalent, due to their different forms. This refers to the amount of folate compound that has the same effect as 1 mg of free folate.
Functions in the Body
- Contributes to the formation of DNA and genetic material
- Processes amino acids
- Contributes in the key processes of cell division
- Develops blood cells
- Promotes cell growth
- Important for placenta growth during pregnancy and the prevention of neural tube birth deformities in new-borns
- Fatigue, irritability, loss of appetite, variances in the blood cell count and anaemia.
- During pregnancy, there is an increase in the risk of deformities in the child (such as neural tube birth deformities).
- Folate deficiency can be caused by vitamin B12 deficiency. Therefore, vitamin B12 resources should always be checked before folate is supplemented.
No side effects have been observed in adults, despite long-term ingestion of high amounts.
+ Vitamin B12, B6 and C are beneficial to folate status.
– Alcohol, anti-inflammatory medications (such as aspirin and ibuprofen) and cholesterol lowering agents disrupt folic acid metabolism.
Green leafy vegetables (such as spinach and lamb’s lettuce) broccoli, green asparagus, leek, Brussels sprouts, walnuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, egg yolks, liver, milk, dairy products and whole grain products.
Recommended Daily Amounts
Young people 300 µg
Adults 300 µg
Adults over 65 years old 300 µg
«5 a Day» Helps Your Vitamin Supply
In order to meet the daily folate requirements, 156 grams of spinach, 187 grams of lamb’s lettuce or soya sprouts, 230 grams of Brussels sprouts, 234 grams of asparagus, 272 grams of broccoli, 300 grams of honeydew melon, 312 grams of leeks or arugula (rocket) would have to be consumed.