Vitamin B9/Folate

Pregnant women or women who may get pregnant need to pay special attention to this vitamin because it is essential for proper cell division and DNA synthesis. Folate deficiency during pregnancy, particularly in the earliest stages of pregnancy, has been linked to neural tube defects like spina bifida and other serious birth defects. Since many women are unaware that they are pregnant in the first few weeks, it is especially important that women with the potential to be pregnant pay careful attention to their folate intake.

Folate is the most common nutrient deficiency in the world. Other symptoms of folate deficiency include irritability, fatigue, confusion, poor memory, depression, insomnia, muscular fatigue, diarrhea, and gingivitis.

Symptoms of folate toxicity can occur when intake is greater than 1,000-2,000 mcg, or 5-10 times the recommended daily allowance. Generally, this is only a concern when taking supplements or eating fortified processed foods. Symptoms of toxicity are similar to the deficiency symptoms listed above.

Much of the folate in vegetables, fruits, and grains is lost during cooking and processing.

US Recommended Daily Allowance: 200 mcg

Health Benefits of Vitamin B9/Folate

Colon Prevents colorectal cancer.
Fertility Lowers the incidence of sperm containing too many or too few chromosomes which is linked to failure to conceive, miscarriage, Down's syndrome, Turner's syndrome, and Klinefelter's syndrome.
Heart Prevents cardiovascular diseases, especially heart disease and stroke, possibly by reducing the level of the amino acid homocysteine in the blood.
Lungs Reduces risk of lung cancer.
Nerves Acts as a nerve strengthener.
Pregnancy/Postnatal Critical for proper development of the fetal nervous system. Deficiencies can lead to neural tube defects like spina bifida. It is recommended that expectant mothers take care to consume 400-500 mcg of folate starting 1 month before conception and through the first trimester of pregnancy.

Food Sources of Vitamin B9/Folate

Spinach 194 mcg 97%
Mustard Greens 187 mcg 94%
Collards 166 mcg 83%
Parsley 152 mcg 76%
Papaya 144 mcg 72%
Endive 142 mcg 71%
Romaine Lettuce 136 mcg 68%
Avocado 121 mcg 61%
Arugula 97 mcg 49%
Durian 87.5 mcg 44%
Quinoa 77.7 mcg 39%
Asparagus 69.7 mcg 35%
Sunflower Seeds 63.6 mcg 32%
Broccoli 57.3 mcg 29%
Cauliflower 57 mcg 29%
Cherimoya 56.2 mcg 28%
Brussels Sprouts 53.7 mcg 27%
Wild Rice 42.6 mcg 21%
Strawberries 39.8 mcg 20% Studies have shown a high folate retention rate for fresh, whole strawberries even after 9 days of refrigerated storage.
Celery 36.4 mcg 18%
Blackberries 36 mcg 18%
Amaranth 31.8 mcg 16%
Lambsquarters 30 mcg 15%
Mango 29 mcg 15%