Folic acid, also known as folate, is important for the production and maintenance of new cells. This is especially necessary during both pregnancy and infancy when cell growth is extremely rapid. Both adults and children need folic acid to make normal red blood cells and to prevent anemia. This vitamin can be manufactured by the body and be stored in the liver. Having enough folic acid in early pregnancy can prevent birth defects, including problems with the spine (neural tube defects) and brain. Women who become pregnant and don't consume enough folate are also more likely to have babies who have low birthweight or are premature.
How Much Folic Acid Is Enough?

Men need 200 micrograms per day of folic acid, and women who cannot become pregnant need 180 micrograms per day of folic acid. If you are a woman who plans to or could become pregnant, you need to eat foods fortified with folic acid. You may also need to take a supplement to be sure you're getting 400 micrograms per day. Once you are pregnant, your intake should be 400 micrograms per day. Breastfeeding mothers need 280 micrograms per day.


Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for Folate
Babies 0 to 1 years 65 mcg/day
Children 1 to 3 years 80 mcg/day
Children 4 to 6 years 100 mcg/day
Children 7 to 9 years 120 mcg/day
Children 10 to 12 years 150 mcg/day
Teenager boy 13 to 15 180 mcg/day
Teenager girl13 to 15 170 mcg/day
Teenager boy 16 to 19 200 mcg/day
Teenager girl 16 to 19 180 mcg/day
Men 220 mcg/day
Women 200 mcg/day
Pregnant women 400 mcg/day
Nursing mother 400 mcg/day

Folic acid is required for DNA synthesis and cell growth and is important for red blood cell formation, energy production as well as the forming of amino acids. Folic acid is essential for creating iron containing substance in hemoglobin, crucial for oxygen transport.
Fresh green vegetables, such as spinach and broccoli contain folic acid. It is also found in fruit, starchy vegetables, beans, whole grains, liver and mushrooms.
Food Serving Folate (mcg)
Fortified breakfast cereal 1 cup 200-400
Orange juice (from concentrate) 6 ounces 82
Spinach (cooked) 1/2 cup 131
Asparagus (cooked) 1/2 cup (~ 6 spears) 131
Lentils (cooked) 1/2 cup 179
Garbanzo beans (cooked) 1/2 cup 141
Lima beans (cooked) 1/2 cup 78
Bread 1 slice 20
Pasta (cooked) 1 cup 60
Rice (cooked) 1 cup 60

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