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All About Folate - Deficiencies and Symptoms | Hea Boosters

Folate is every woman’s best friend, especially if you’re pregnant, or a mother. During pregnancy, it helps with the development of the baby’s neural tube, which is a major component of the brain and spine. Folate also helps in the production of healthy red blood cells, that carry oxygen throughout the body, deficiency of folic acid may lead to anaemia, fatigue and weakness.

According to FSSAI, pregnant women need 500 micrograms per day, and lactating women need 300 micrograms of folic acid per day.

Folic acid and folate are sometimes used interchangeably but they differ structurally and have different biological effects on the body. A folic acid is a synthetic form of vitamin B9. It is water-soluble and is used in refined foods like bread, pasta, fortified cereals and supplements.

In contrast, folate is a naturally occurring form of vitamin B9 and is found in many foods like vegetables, nuts, beans and poultry. Since it is water-soluble and gets excreted through the urinary system, a few weeks of a diet low in folate can lead to a vitamin B9 deficiency. Certain types of cancers or kidney problems may cause a deficiency in folate too.

The symptoms of a folate deficiency are: 

1. Fatigue
2. Gray hair
3. Mouth sores
4. Tongue swelling
5. Growth problems

Deficiencies, along with such symptoms can be avoided by consuming a nutritious, balanced diet, which could include the following high-folate foods:

1. Spinach: A bunch of spinach which is approximately 340 grams contains 659 micrograms of folate, (equivalent to 131% of the daily nutritional requirement).

2. Peas: A cup of peas, (~ 160 grams) contains 94 micrograms of folate, (18% of the daily recommended amount.)

3. Eggs: An egg has 19.4 micrograms of folate, (3% of daily nutritional requirement).

4. Beans: A cup of beans contains 240 micrograms of folate, equivalent to 48% of the daily nutritional requirement.

These are a few foods that you can include to meet your daily nutritional value of folate. Foods like green leafy vegetables and citrus fruits are generally very good sources of folate. Here’s the best part; if you’re apprehensive about having too much folate, don’t be.

Folate is a water-soluble vitamin which means most of the excess is passed out through urine. Unless you have 51 eggs per day, the chances of encountering such an excess of folate are quite low! In fact, for the most part, due to hectic lifestyles and work schedules, missing out on essential nutrients and vitamins like folate are quite common.

Folate is extremely important to have a healthy pregnancy and childbirth. Eating a balanced diet, including a few green smoothies and green vegetables will help you reach your folate requirement. If you are someone who tends to miss out on having regular, balanced meals, supplements are your way to go.

Studies:
Folic acid and why is it important during pregnancy:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3218540/

Folate is a water-soluble vitamin and its functions:
https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Folate-HealthProfessional/

Difference between folic acid and folate:
https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/folicacid/faqs/faqs-general-info.html

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