Folic Acid is a synthetic form of B vitamin needed by the body for optimal health. Getting sufficient amount of this vitamin B can help preventing birth defects among pregnant women and folic acid deficiency anemia.
Folic acid is also sometimes called as folate. But folate is actually the natural form, which you can find in food. Folic acid is the synthetic form that is put in vitamin pills and fortified food like fortified bread and fortified breakfast cereals. The difference between the two is often overlooked and most people just use the term folic acid to refer to both types.
People can get sufficient amount of folic acid by eating a well-balanced diet.
Recommended dietary allowance (RDA) gives us the following daily dosage guidelines:
- babies 0 to 6 months: 65 mcg (micrograms)
- babies 7 to 12 months: 80 mcg
- children 1 to 3 years: 150 mcg
- children 4 to 8 years: 200 mcg
- children 9 to 13 years: 300 mcg
- teenagers over 13 years and adults: 400 mcg
- pregnant women: 600 mcg
Although the recommended amount of folic acid for all adults is 400 mcg per day, many doctors recommend pregnant women to get a higher amount as this can help greatly in the prevention of birth defects. A pregnant woman who is not able to get sufficient folic acid before or during pregnancy is at an increased risk of the birth defects like spina bifida, cleft lip and cleft palate. Because of this, women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant are recommended to take in 600 mcg of folic acid a day.
- breastfeeding women: 500 mcg
Breastfeeding women should take 500 mcg. If you are breastfeeding, getting this folic acid ensures that the baby will get enough folic acid to stay healthy.
- 1 small orange has 39 mcg
- 1 cup of boiled peas has 94 mcg
- 1 cup of strawberries has 168 mcg
- 1 cup of cooked lentils has 358 mcg
- 1 cup of cooked spinach has 263 mcg
- 1 cup of cooked broccoli has 168 mcg
- 3 oz of cooked beef liver has 221 mcg
- 1 cup of cooked pinto beans has 294 mcg
- 4 spears of boiled asparagus has 89 mcg
- 1 cup of cooked kidney beans has 230 mcg
- 1 cup of cooked enriched macaroni has 167 mcg
- 1 cup of cooked enriched white rice has 235 mcg
- 1 cup of fortified breakfast cereal has 400 mcg or more
But since this vitamin B in man-made form is absorbed better by the bodies than the natural form, it’s possible that even if a pregnant woman eats a well-balanced diet, she will still not get enough folic acid needed to prevent birth defects. This is why, folic acid supplement is often recommended for women who are pregnant or planning to have a baby.