Folate (known as folic acid when added to foods) is a B-group vitamin found in a variety of foods. Folic acid helps protect against neural tube defects in the developing foetus, so it is important for pregnant women to make sure that they are receiving enough of this important vitamin.

For women who are planning a pregnancy, and during the first three months of pregnancy, a daily folic acid supplement that contains at least 400 micrograms of folic acid is recommended, as well as eating foods that are naturally rich in folate or are fortified with folic acid. The recommendation for this supplement is that for many women the intake of the foods high in folate they may not be eating or eating enough of.

In Australia, all wheat flour used in bread making must contain folic acid (with the exception of flour used in ‘organic’ bread). Three slices of fortified bread (100 g) contains an average of 120 micrograms of folic acid. Breakfast cereals and fruit juices sold in Australia may also have folic acid added.

What Is Folate?

If you never knew why your mom told you to eat your vegetables, you're about to find out. Among the many vitamins and nutrients found in vegetables is folate, which is vital for growth. Sometimes known as folic acid, this vitamin helps your body build new cells. This process takes place every day, so don't ever pass on the salad.

The discovery of folate was closely tied to the discovery of vitamin B12. These two vitamins work together in several important biological reactions. A deficiency of either vitamin results in a condition known as megaloblastic, or macrocytic (large-cell), anemia.

In 1930, researcher Lucy Wills and her colleagues reported that yeast contained a substance that could cure macrocytic anemia in pregnant women. But it wasn't until the early 1940s that folate was finally isolated and identified.

Folate functions as a coenzyme during many reactions in the body. It has an important role in making new cells, because it helps form the genetic material DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and RNA (ribonucleic acid). DNA carries and RNA transmits the genetic information that acts as the blueprint for cell production.

Best source of Folate in your diet is Green Leafy Vegetables:

Excellent food sources of folate include:
•bran flakes
•Brussels sprouts
•chick peas
•dried beans
•brewers yeast

Very good food sources of folate include:
•orange juice
•wheat germ
•wholegrain bread.

Good food sources of folate include:
•unsalted peanuts

Your Daily Intake 66 mcg of Folate with the food you Eat: instead of taking a supplement:

Some Simple Examples: you can eat each day to get your recommended daily folate intake of 600mcg.
•2 x tablespoons of brewers yeast - This can be added to a smoothie. Then in a salad during the day a cup of asparagus, baby spinach, tomatoes and walnuts.
•1 cup of cooked lentils =358mcg of folate so add 1 cup of spinach = 263 mcg of folate
•Then to top up with foods during the day such as avocado, strawberries, bananas, kiwi fruit, celery, carrots, onion, garlic, capsicum. These are also beneficial due to the other nutrients especially Vitamin C that assists with proper absorption of Folate. One kiwi fruit per day is your recommended daily vitamin C dose.
•Getting enough and adequate vitamins is easy when you eat a diet high in vegetables and fruit. Not only are you getting adequate vitamin they are also being readily absorbed and metabolised by your body because they are real foods.
• Sunflower & flaxseeds and nuts such as walnuts & almonds - 1 cup = 300 mcg

Although liver is high in folate, it is not recommended for women who are, or could be pregnant, because of its high vitamin A content.

Empowering You to Optimal Health Julie Doherty N.D

Author's Bio: 

Julie Doherty is acknowledged as Worldwide Leader in Healthcare by The Leading Physicians of the world. She is an exceptionally experienced naturopathic health practitioner with a vast expertise in traditional medicine, herbal medicine, and homeopathic medicine. Julie has over twenty-six years in practice and currently maintains a position at Julie's Naturopathic Health Care Services, her private practice in Hackham, South Australia, Australia, where she provides an extensive array of safe, effective, individual, and non-invasive therapies to assist with overcoming health issues that affect the body and the mind.

Julie graduated with distinctions from S.A. College of Botanical Medicine and Natural Therapies and is an accredited member of the Australian Traditional Medicine Society. Her professional qualifications include Naturopathic Doctor, Herbal & Homoeopathic Practitioner in Diet and Nutritional Medicine, Remedial & Therapeutic Massage Therapy, Body Mind Balancing Cognitive Counselling, and Healthy/Lifestyle coaching and Natural Beauty. This solid education has enabled Julie to provide an extensive range of multidisciplinary modalities that are safe, effective, individual and non-invasive to empower each person to optimal health. Julie credits her success to determination and dedicates to her family and traveling in her spare time