Michael van Straten
Michael van Straten
australiaphen375.com

Folic Acid

Folic acid, a member of the vitamin B group of nutrients, is found in a wide variety of foods and is best known for its ability to prevent spina bifida in newborn babies. Unfortunately it's the first three months of pregnancy that are crucial in the development of the baby's spine and when having adequate folic acid is so important. Many women don't realise that they are pregnant until the second or third month. In spite of the wide availability of folic acid few people manage to get the 200 micrograms they need each day from their diet. Folic acid is also needed for the body's production of healthy red blood cells.

Latest research shows that it also plays a key role in the prevention of heart disease by controlling the amount of homocysteine in the blood. High levels of this naturally occurring chemical are known to be a factor which increases the risk of fatal heart attacks. Anaemia may be caused by getting too little folic acid and a supplement of 200 micrograms a day can soon help improve the condition and overcome the symptoms of severe tiredness.

After the menopause the blood levels of homocysteine tend to increase with a related increase in the risk of osteoporosis. For this reason it's extremely important for any women not having periods (for whatever reason) to make sure they eat a regular selection of folic acid rich foods. It's not advisable to take large amounts of folic acid - more than 500 micrograms daily - for long periods without discussing this with your GP, as at this level it may mask the symptoms of pernicious anaemia. Folic acid can also interfere with medicine taken for epilepsy, so epileptics must also talk to their doctor before taking it.

It's always best to take folic acid supplements together with food as this improves absorption. Alcohol, the pill, aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and medicines for non-insulin dependent diabetes can all interfere with the absorption of folic acid.


LIVER
Folic acid content:
Chicken liver 750 mcg / 100 g
Ox liver 290 mcg / 100 g
Lamb 260 mcg / 100 g

The best of all sources of folic acid but not to be eaten if you are pregnant or even if there's a chance that you may be, as the very high levels of vitamin A may be harmful to the developing baby.

Percentage of daily requirement: 100% +
Folic acid score: 10/10


FORTIFIED CEREALS

Many commercial breakfast cereals have added folic acid. Typically:-

Folic acid content:
250 mcg/ 100 g
75 mcg/ average portion

Percentage of daily requirement: 38%
Folic acid score: 6/10


BEETROOT

Folic acid content:
150 mcg /100 g
Percentage of daily requirement 75% - large glass of beetroot juice 120%
Folic acid score: 9/10


BRUSSEL SPROUTS

Folic acid content:
110 mcg / 100 g
Percentage of daily requirement: 50% from average portion
Folic acid score: 7/10

PEANUTS, FRESH UNSALTED

Folic acid content:
110 mcg / 100 g
Percentage of daily requirement: 25% from average small pack
Folic acid score: 5/10


GARBANZO BEANS (BLACKEYE)

Folic acid content:
210 mcg / 100 g
Percentage of daily requirement: 63% from average portion
Folic acid score: 8/10

SPINACH

Folic acid content:
135 mcg / 100 g
Percentage of daily requirement: 67% from average portion
Folic acid score: 8/10

 

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