Folic acid, also known as folate or vitamin B9, is a water-soluble vitamin in the eight-member vitamin B complex. According to the Ohio State University Extension, folic acid is involved in the production of new red blood cells, metabolism of proteins, and the metabolism of DNA. The Harvard School of Public Health reports that when it is adequately consumed during early pregnancy, folic acid is also effective at preventing birth defects.
According to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, the recommended daily intake of folic acid is as follows: 400 micrograms per day for adults, 600 micrograms per day for pregnant women, and 500 micrograms per day for breast-feeding women. While there are no problems associated with high dietary consumption of folic acid, when intake from supplements exceeds 1,000 micrograms per day, it can cause stomach discomfort and diarrhea. As such, it is best to eat a diet rich in foods high in folic acid including certain vegetables, fruits, and grains.
Vegetables and fruits:
Various vegetables are the best foods high in folic acid. Green and leafy vegetables including spinach, lettuce, broccoli asparagus, and artichokes are great sources of folic acid. Sweet peppers, peas, beats, and lentils provide high amounts of the vitamin as well. Soybeans, navy beans, lima beans, pinto beans, and just about all varieties of beans typically contain about one third of the daily requirement of folic acid per serving. Among fruits, oranges, strawberries, and melons are the best sources of vitamin B9. The average orange contains about 50 micrograms of folate.
Nuts, grains, and breads:
The second best group of foods high in folic acid is nuts and grains. Hazelnuts, chestnuts, and various other nuts contain about a tenth of the recommended daily intake of folic acid per ounce. An ounce of sunflower seeds contains about ten percent of the daily intake as well. Many brands of bread, pasta, noodles, and rice are fortified with moderate amounts of folic acid. Breakfast cereals fortified with vitamins including folic acid contain some of the highest concentrations, containing between 25 and 100 percent of the recommended daily intake.
Meat, eggs, and other foods:
The final and least rich group of foods high in folic acid is meat and fish. Animal livers contain the highest concentrations of the vitamin among meat products, some of which contain even more than a whole day’s worth of folate. A single egg contains about 25 micrograms of vitamin B9.
Folic acid (vitamin B9) is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning the body requires a steady intake of the vitamin. As it is involved in a variety of important functions including the production of new red blood cells, it is important to have a diet with plenty of foods high in folic acid.