Folic acid (also known as B9) is a vitamin required by our bodies to prevent a number of different physical and mental health issues. If you would like an overview of the roles vitamins play in our bodies, read this excellent article on vitamins. It describes the main vitamins we need together with sources and conditions that can result from deficiency.
As with most of the micronutrients that we need in our diet, the one problem for many people is not knowing which foods are rich in the supplement. I was therefore happy to come across an article by Dr. Edward Group who provides an extensive list of 15 sources of folic acid.
In his article entitled “15 Foods High in Folic Acid” Dr. Group lists the following items:
- Dark Leafy Greens
- Citrus fruits
- Beans, Peas & Lentils
- Brussel Sprouts
- Seeds & Nuts
You should read the full article for a more detailed discussion on these folic acid sources. In particular, Dr. Group gives you more idea on quantities of vegetable and dose of folate. Using his guidelines, you can easily adjust your diet so that you know you are getting your daily dose of folic acid.
Folic Acid, Pregnancy & Teenagers
Folic acid is often given as a supplement to pregnant women to help development of the foetus. However, in some medical studies, it has been suggested that folic acid may be linked to an increased risk of asthma and eczema in the children. However, in their article Folic Acid Supplementation Not Linked to Childhood Asthma, the Natural Standard Blog refer to a new study that looked at 2834 children and that study reported no increased risk and in fact a slight decrease in the risk of asthma by the time the child is 7 years old.
In his article, Let's Eradicate Preventable Birth Defects, Godfrey Oakley, M.D., Research Professor of Epidemiology at Emory University points out that Spina bifida and anencephaly (neural tube defects) are caused by a deficiency in folic acid. He says that these neural tube defects can be prevented if the mother has enough folic acid (B9). Dr. Oakley was involved in the enrichment of cereal grains with folic acid in the 1990’s – a program that helped reduce the number of neural tube defects by 36% in the US.
Keeping on the topic of children, the Natural Standard Blog also looked at a new study that suggested teenagers who consume extra folate (the naturally occurring form of folic acid) in their diet may be better academically in school. Their article, entitled Folate Intake Linked to Academic Achievement, also mentions that folic acid supplementation during pregnancy may prevent anemia an some birth defects.
What we think:
First and foremost – if you are pregnant (or think you may be), please speak with your doctor before taking folic acid supplements, or try to increase your folate intake through juicing or raw fruits & vegetables.
Folic acid and vitamin B12 deficiencies (either or both) are often associated with depression.
Best juices for folic acid – asparagus, spinach, kale, broccoli, cabbage and blackberries. If you need a boost of B12 (that isn't readily available in fruits or veg), look to add meat, poultry and fish (vegetarians can eat tofu as this is also a good source) to your diet.