Although most of us know to increase our intake of vitamin C when we’re feeling ill and to get into the sunshine for some much needed vitamin D, when it comes to the B vitamin folate, it can be difficult to know where to begin!
While folate plays a vital role in the production of healthy red blood cells, it’s also really important in the development of an unborn child. One of the best ways to get the right amount of folate is through your food choices with some of the best sources including:
- Spinach and kale
- Brussel sprouts and asparagus
- Broccoli and cauliflower
- Chickpeas and kidney beans
- Oranges and orange juice
- Fortified breakfast cereals
- Breads, rice and pastas
- Folic acid supplements
8 Foods to Boost Folate Naturally
Spinach and kale
Two foods with the highest content of folate are spinach and kale. Including both of these foods in your diet is a great way to make sure you're getting enough dietary folate.
For those who aren’t keen on leafy greens, adding kale to a smoothie with sweeter fruits like raspberries and blueberries, is a great way to ensure you're getting folate into your diet from day to day.
Brussel sprouts and asparagus
Both brussel sprouts and asparagus are very high in folate, so including these as a side at dinner time will really help in boosting your folate consumption.
As folate is water soluble, it is lost from vegetables during cooking. To reduce this from happening, avoid boiling vegetables where possible. Try steaming, or even microwaving your vegetables, in order to keep the vitamin content intact.
See also: What Causes Low Folate?
Broccoli and cauliflower
Broccoli and cauliflower are both high in natural folate and make for a great side dish in almost any meal. Adding chopped up stalks of these vegetables to a curry or stew will ensure you're getting a daily dose of folate all while bulking up your dinner.
Chickpeas and kidney beans
Chickpeas and kidney beans are a super versatile food and are a great addition to any plate. A chickpea or kidney bean curry is a cheap and easy way to get folate into your diet. Chickpeas are also a tasty addition to any salad, boosting your lunch time folate intake.
Oranges and orange juice
It is common knowledge that oranges are full of vitamin C, which is important in keeping our immune system strong. A less well known fact is that oranges are also a great source of dietary folate - giving you yet another reason to make sure that an orange is included as one of your 5 a day!
Breads, pasta and rice
In 1988, the US Food and Drug Administration required that folic acid be added to enriched grain products such as bread, pasta, rice and cereal. These foods are known as ‘fortified’.
The folate found in fortified foods is known as folic acid. Folic acid is a synthetic form of the vitamin, which is more readily absorbed by our bodies. Ensuring that you have an appropriate portion size of one of these enriched foods at every meal time, will help in maintaining adequate folate levels.
Fortified breakfast cereals
Fortified breakfast cereals are a cheap and easy way to make sure you're getting enough folic acid in the diet. Many fortified breakfast cereals can contain a large percentage of the recommended daily amount of folic acid you should be consuming a day.
Some fortified cereals can contain 100% of the recommended daily amount, if the correct portion is consumed
Folic acid supplement
Although it’s possible to get the amount of folate you need by eating a varied and balanced diet, it’s difficult for women to get enough folate from her diet alone. This is why taking a 400 microgram folic supplement daily until your 12 weeks pregnant is recommended.
See also: Why is Folate Important in Pregnancy?
Are you interested in knowing more about your folate levels? You can do just that by taking a trip to your local doctor or at a time that suits you with an at-home lab test.
LetsGetChecked’s at-home Folate Test monitors the amount of folate serum in the body with online results available in 2-5 days. Our dedicated medical team will be available 24/7 to answer any questions you may have regarding results, next steps or anything in between.
You should consider taking the test if:
- You are trying to get pregnant
- You are pregnant
- You have had gastrointestinal surgery
- You have digestive disorders like Crohn's or Coeliac disease
- You are (or were) an alcoholic
- You maintain a vegan or vegetarian diet
- You are experiencing symptoms of anemia
- You have a vitamin B12 deficiency
- You have a seizure-causing condition and are taking anticonvulsant drugs
See also: How do you Check Your Folate Levels?