Folic Acid

Before you become pregnant, start taking a vitamin supplement which contains folic acid. Folic acid (also known as folacin) is one of the B vitamins. It is known as “folate” when found in natural food sources. Recents studies show that folic acid deficiency may be a significant factor in the formation of neural tube defects (birth defects involving the brain and/or spinal cord).

The average American dietary intake of folate is about 0.2 mg/day. Folate is less “bioavailable” than pure folic acid. This means that natural sources of folates are absorbed and utilized LESS well than pure folic acid. So, before you conceive, you should be consuming 400 mcg (0.4 mg) of folic acid. The current recommendation is that you should be consuming this much folate daily 30 days before you conceive. It is quite possible to get the equivalent of this much folic acid in your daily diet without supplements- BUT MOST PEOPLE DO NOT. The following foods are rich in folates:

asparagus, 4 spears, boiled  87.6 mcg
fresh spinach, boiled, 1/2 cup  131.0 mcg
avocado, California, 100 gms 65.5 mcg
avocado, Florida, 100 gms  53.3 mcg
lettuce, iceberg, 1 large leaf  8.4 mcg
lettuce, romaine, 1 inner leaf  13.8 mcg
broccoli, 1/2 cup  31..0 mcg
banana, 1 medium  23.0 mcg
strawberries, whole,1 cup  26.0 mcg
pineapple, raw, diced,1 cup  16.0 mcg
orange, California, 1 cup sections 56.0 mcg
orange, Florida, 1 cup sections  32.0 mcg

figs, dried, 10  14.3 mcg
apple, 1 mediurm  3.7 mcg
liver, beef, 3 oz.  187.0 mcg
soybeans, cooked,1 cup  930.0 mcg
pinto beans, cooked,1 cup  294.0 mcg
kidney beans, cooked,1 cup  229.0 mcg
Kellogg’s Raisin Bran, 1 cup  122.0 mcg
Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, 1 cup 99.0 mcg
Special K, 1 cup  93.0 mcg
Cheerios, 1 cup  100.0 mcg
Total, 1 cup  500.0 mcg
Total Raisin Bran, 1 cup  400.0 mcg

*Table derived from information provided by the USDA’s Nutrient Database.

Since more than half of all pregnancies are unplanned, it has been recommended that ALL women of childbearing age (capable of pregnancy) should be ingesting 0.4 mg (400 mcg) of folic acid every day.

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