Folate

Folate refers to a group of compounds related to the parent molecule folic acid, which may be found naturally occuring in food or in synthetic form in supplements or fortified foods. Folate, classified as a water-soluble B vitamin, is crucial for the metabolism of nucleic acid precursors and several amino acids, in addition to numerous methylation reactions, all of which are related to the synthesis of DNA. Good dietary sources of folate include liver, yeast, legumes and green leafy vegetables.

Functions

Folate is involved in a variety of important biological processes within the human body including DNA synthesis and repair, and the metabolism and synthesis of amino acids. It is integral to normal growth and development, particulalrly so during periods of increased cell division, such as pregnancy. Indeed, pregnancy results in a higher folate requirement to serve maternal and fetal tissue generation, and adequate supply reduces the risk of birth defects such as spina bifida and cleft palate. For these reasons, dietary supplementation with synthetic folic acid is strongly recommended before conception and throughout the first trimester of pregnancy. 

Reference Intake (RI)

    AGE

   CHILDREN

    MALES

FEMALES

MALES

FEMALES

PREGNANCY

  YEARS

1-3

4-6

7-10

11-14

15-17

11-14

15-17

18-64

65+

18-64

65+

 

Folate (µg / d)

70

100

150

200

200

200

200

200

200

200

200

 (+100)

 

    MONTHS

0-3

4-6

7-9

10-12

LACTATION

Folate (µg / d)

50

50

50

50

  (+60)

 

 

Food Sources

PRODUCTS

Broccoli (cooked)

Spinach (raw)

Kale (raw)

Brussel Sprouts (cooked)

(ug / 100g) 

63

194

 29

60

PRODUCTS

Asparagus (cooked)

Pinto Beans (boiled)

Avocado

Liver (cooked)

(ug / 100 g)

149

172

81

73

Deficiency / Toxicity

Folate deficiency is more likely to result from malabsorption or nutrient/drug interactions (anti-convulsant agents for the treatment of epilepsy), as opposed to inadequate intake. High level obesity (BMI >50) and chronic alcoholism are also risk factors for deficiency. Folate deficiency may lead to a range of complications including the development of megaloblastic anaemia and neural tube defects during pregnancy.

Due to its' solubility in water, high intakes of folate have demonstrated no adverse effects.