Sources & Examples of Foods High in Folic Acid

by on June 7, 2012

Folate and folic acids are water-soluble vitamins that belong to the vitamin B family. Folate is a naturally occurring compound while folic acid is its synthetic form that is usually added to fortified foods and contained in health supplements.

Folate derives its name from “folium”, the Latin word for leaf. About 70 years ago, researcher Lucy Wills observed that a certain nutrient extracted from yeast can be used to effectively prevent and correct anemia due to pregnancy. The study of Dr. Wills eventually led to the identification of folate.

This vitamin plays crucial role in the production and maintenance of new cells, especially red blood cells. It is essential during pregnancy and infancy when rapid cell division and cell growth occurs. Folate is required for healthy DNA and RNA production thereby preventing DNA modification that may lead to cancer. This B-vitamin is also crucial for the metabolism of homocysteine, often associated with common heart diseases, and maintenance of normal amino acid levels.

What are the natural food sources of folate?

Folate is abundant in the American diet since it is easily available in food sources. Leafy green vegetables, fruits, dried beans and peas, organ meat, legumes, mushrooms, and yeasts contain a good amount of folate. Below are some examples of foods high in folate, categorized according to their folate content.

Some of the BEST SOURCES of folate include:

  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Baked potato
  • Calf's liver
  • Cauliflower
  • Citrus fruits and juices
  • Collard greens
  • Fruits (bananas, melons, lemons)
  • Lentils
  • Mustard greens
  • Okra
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Turnip greens
  • Parsley

Some of other VERY GOOD sources of folate include:

  • Summer squash
  • Black beans
  • Navy beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Papaya
  • Strawberries
  • Green beans
  • Sea vegetables
  • Cabbage
  • Bell peppers
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Leeks
  • Fennel
  • Tomatoes
  • Green peas

Folate, unlike other vitamins and nutrients, is abundant in many food products. Usually, these food products are found in the average American diet.

What are the other sources of folic acid?

Aside from these natural food sources, folate is also available in basic food products that are fortified with folic acid. In 1996, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has required addition of folic acid in staple foods.

Some of these FORTIFIED FOOD PRODUCTS include:

  • Breads
  • Cereals
  • Cookies
  • Corn meals
  • Flours
  • Pastas
  • Rice
  • Soy milk

Since these food products are widely consumed and comprise the bulk of the American diet, it has become the most important sources of folic acid in the U.S.

In addition to food products, folic acid is also available in health supplements and in most multivitamin preparations.