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
|Mustard Greens||187 mcg||94%|
|Romaine Lettuce||136 mcg||68%|
|Sunflower Seeds||63.6 mcg||32%|
|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.|