The World's Healthiest Foods

How much folic acid do I need? What are good food sources of folic acid?

The amount of folic acid (or folate) your body needs is related to the number of new cells developing in your body. Your body requires folic acid to replace all of the cells lining your digestive tract (notably those of your gums and colon) every few days; to replace all of your oxygen-carrying red blood cells every few months; to repair all wounded, aging, or damaged cells; to keep the cells of your heart and nervous system in top form; to maintain the normal removal of homocysteine (an amino acid that becomes toxic if it accumulates); to form the protective cells covering the cervix; to form sperm; and to form every cell of a growing fetus inside a pregnant woman.

For general guidelines based on your age and gender, consult our comprehensive article on Folate. Most adults should try to get at least 400 micrograms daily, while pregnant women should aim for at least 600 micrograms daily. Find out if you are consuming enough folate by going to our Food Advisor. This handy tool will take you less than five minutes.

The word “folic” comes from the word “foliage”—a good clue to food sources of folic acid, which include dark green leafy vegetables (“foliage” like spinach, romaine lettuce, and parsley), broccoli, and lentils. Other excellent sources of folic acid include asparagus, cauliflower, mustard greens, kale, and turnip greens.

Here are three easy recipes that will put more folic acid on your plate while pleasing your palate:

For your convenience, Folate - Food Sources provides a detailed list of foods rich in folate.

This page was updated on: 2005-09-11 17:56:19
© 2002 The George Mateljan Foundation