Many people are often misinformed about the quality of their diets and are under the impression that they must consume vitamins and supplements to fulfill their nutritional needs. In some cases, supplements are necessary. For healthy individuals, however, a balanced diet can easily provide the nutrients they need for optimal health. One such nutrient is Vitamin B9, also known as folate.
Folate is naturally present in some foods and folic acid is the supplementary form of folate, added to some foods to enhance their nutritional content. Folate is stored in the body in small amounts in the liver, body tissues, and the blood. It functions as a multitasking workhorse, an essential nutrient for healthy eyes, hair, skin, nervous system, brain function, and red blood cell production.
Starting in 1998 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) required food manufacturers to add folic acid to grain products such as cereals, breads, flours, rice, and pastas. It would prove worthwhile, as Americans cannot get enough of their carbs.
But what about natural sources of folate? Are there very many of them? Do you need to eat a lot just to get enough without having to take vitamins or supplements? Surprisingly, folate is present in many foods, including
* leafy vegetables
* orange juice
* dairy products
Because folate is present in a wide variety of foods, and fortified in grain products, meeting the daily value of folate should not be a big issue. Some categories of people are at risk of folate deficiency:
* pregnant women
* people who suffer from malabsorptive disorders (e.g. celiac disease)
Adequate folate intake has been found to be critical for pregnant women to reduce the risk of giving birth to babies with neural tube defects (NTDs), characterized by abnormal development of the brain and spinal cord. For this reason, pregnant females require higher amounts of folate than the average adult male or female.
Current Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for folate are as follows (in micrograms):
Adult males: 400 mcg
Adult females: 400 mcg
Pregnant females: 600 mcg
Always consider consulting with a qualified nutrition professional to determine if supplements are necessary. In the meantime, invest in your health by adding as many folate-rich foods to your diet as you possibly can. The return on investment is priceless: a healthier you!
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