- Helping amino acid metabolism and conversion
- Aiding in the conversion of homocysteine to methionine
- Producing and maintaining new cells
- Making DNA and RNA, the building blocks of cells
- Preventing changes to DNA that may lead to cancer
- Making red blood cells and preventing anemia
- Assisting in the creation of neurotransmitters (chemicals that regulate sleep, pain, and mood)
|Age Group (in Years)||Recommended Dietary Allowance|
|1 - 3||150 mcg||150 mcg|
|4 - 8||200 mcg||200 mcg|
|9 - 13||300 mcg||300 mcg|
|14 - 18||400 mcg||400 mcg|
|Pregnancy, 14 - 18||600 mcg||n/a|
|Lactation, 14 - 18||500 mcg||n/a|
|19+||400 mcg||400 mcg|
|Pregnancy, 19+||600 mcg||n/a|
|Lactation, 19+||500 mcg||n/a|
- Need is increased, as with pregnancy
- Dietary intake is lacking
- Body is excreting more than usual
Medications interfering with the body's ability to use folate include:
- Anti-convulsant medicines
Too Much Folate
|Age||Micrograms (mcg) per day|
|1-3 years||300 mcg|
|4-8 years||400 mcg|
|9-13 years||600 mcg|
|14-18 years||800 mcg|
|Pregnant or nursing women up to 18 years||800 mcg|
|19 years and older||1,000 mcg|
|Pregnant or nursing women 19 years and older||1,000 mcg|
Major Food Sources
|Chicken liver, simmered||3.5 ounces||770|
|Fortified breakfast cereal||3/4 cup||
(check Nutrition Facts label)
|Soy flour||1 cup||260|
|Beef liver, braised||3.5 ounces||217|
|Chickpeas, canned||1 cup||160|
|Pinto beans, canned||1 cup||144|
|Spinach, boiled||1/2 cup||131|
|Lima beans, canned||1 cup||121|
|Wheat germ, toasted||1/4 cup||102|
|Asparagus, boiled||4 spears||85|
|Orange juice, fresh||8 fluid ounces||75|
|Spinach, raw||1/2 cup||54|
|Whole wheat flour||1 cup||53|
|Green peas, boiled||1/2 cup||50|
|White rice, long-grain||1/2 cup||45|
|Orange, navel||1 medium||44|
|Peanuts, dry roasted||1 oz||41|
|Wheat flour||1 cup||40|
|Broccoli, boiled||1/2 cup||39|
|Tomatoes, sun-dried||1 cup||37|
|Tomato juice, canned||6 oz||35|
|Peanut butter, crunchy||2 tablespoons||29|
|Cashews, dry roasted||1 ounce||20|
|Bread, whole wheat||1 slice||15|
Populations at Risk of Folate Deficiency
- Pregnant women—Folate is critical for the production and maintenance of new cells. This is especially important during pregnancy—a period of rapid cell division.
- People who consume excessive amounts of alcohol—Folate deficiency has been observed in alcoholics. Alcohol interferes with the absorption of folate and increases excretion by the kidneys. In addition, many alcoholics tend to have diets low in essential nutrients, like folate.
- People on certain medicines—Certain medicines can interfere with the body's ability to use folate. Check with your doctor about supplementation if you are on medicine that may affect your folate levels.
- People with inflammatory bowel diseases—Malabsorption of folate can occur with inflammatory bowel diseases.
- The elderly—Many elderly have low blood levels of folate, which can occur from low intake of the vitamin or problems with absorption.
Tips for Increasing Your Folate Intake:
- Spread a little avocado on your sandwich in place of mayonnaise.
- Drink a glass of orange juice or tomato juice in the morning.
- Add spinach to your scrambled eggs.
- Slice a banana on top of your breakfast cereal.
- Sprinkle some toasted wheat germ on top of pasta or a stir-fry.
- Throw some chickpeas or kidney beans into a salad.
- If you take a vitamin supplement, make sure it contains folate.
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics http://www.eatright.org/
US Department of Agriculture http://www.usda.gov/
Dietitians of Canada http://www.dietitians.ca/
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Duyff RL. The American Dietetic Association's Complete Food & Nutrition Guide. 3rd ed. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.; 2006.
Folate. Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health website. Available at: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Folate-HealthProfessional/. Accessed June 28, 2012.
Folate deficiency. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated December 15, 2010. Accessed June 28, 2012.
Folic acid. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated October 14, 2011. Accessed June 28, 2012.
Garrison R, Somer E. The Nutrition Desk Reference. New Canaan, CT: Keats Publishing; 1995.
- Reviewer: Brian Randall, MD
- Review Date: 06/2012 -
- Update Date: 06/28/2012 -