Folic acid is an essential nutrient especially for women during pregnancy. Thus, it’s important for them to know what this vitamin does and what are the rich sources of folic acid.
Folic acid is an essential vitamin known by many names including vitamin M, Vitamin B6, Vitamin Bc, folate, folacin, pteroyl-L-glutamic acid, and pteroyl-L-glutamate.
It is vital for various functions of body. Since our body is incapable of producing folic acid de novo, it needs to be supplied from external sources through food and supplements. Some of the uses of folate are:
- in synthesizing and repairing DNA and RNA
- assisting in rapid cell division & growth
- in producing healthy RBC (red blood cells)
- In enhancing brain health
- Assists in spermatogenesis, thus play a role in fertility
It is particularly significant for pregnant women to consume folic acid in order to avoid major birth defects of the fetus’ brain and spine especially neural tube defects like anencephaly and spina bifida.
Some of the symptoms of folate deficiency include fatigue, breathlessness, weakness & irritability.
Rich Sources of Folic Acid
Folates are found naturally in various food items. A synthetic form of folic acid, however, is being add to various food items since 1998 including flour, pasta, breads, cold cereals, bakery items, crackers and cookies. Folate can also be taken in the form of supplements. In fact, increased demand of folate and being a common deficiency in women, folate supplements are given to all pregnant women. However, folate can also be consumed through food sources such as following:
- Dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, lettuce, asparagus, okra etc. Having more green salads added to your diet would make a good difference. Nuts, beans, and peas are also good source of folate.
- Many fruits are also rich in folate, for example banana, oranges, grapefruit, honeydew melon, avocado, lemons, tomato etc.
- Folate is also added to grain products in many countries. Staple food products like pasta, bread, flour, rice and breakfast cereal contain good amounts of folic acid.
- Different kinds of sprouts are good sources of folic acid too.
- For those of you who are non-vegetarians poultry and meat, liver, kidney, eggs, seafood are good source of folate too.
- Dairy products also contain folic acid.
- Mushrooms and yeasts are rich in folic acid as well.