Folate and folic acid are forms of vitamin B, which are necessary during pregnancy and helps prevent some birth defects. Many expecting mothers want to know where can they get folic acid naturally during pregnancy.

A normal balanced diet contains enough folic acid. However, a lack of folic acid will cause anemia and sometimes other symptoms. Pregnancy causes reserves of folic acid in your body to be used by the growing baby. You are at risk of becoming low in folic acid during the later stages of pregnancy, particularly if you do not eat well during pregnancy.

What are the symptoms of folic acid deficiency?

Symptoms due to anemia are caused by the reduced amount of oxygen in the body include tiredness, having little energy (lethargy), feeling faint and becoming easily breathless.

Less common symptoms include headaches, heartbeats suddenly becoming noticeable (palpitations), altered taste and ringing in your ears (tinnitus). You may look pale and have numbness in your hands and feet.

Where to find natural forms of folate and folic acid

Folate is naturally found in foods such as vegetables, fruits, and grains, whereas folic acid is the synthetic form of folate and is added to supplements and fortified foods. It is best to get nutrients, such as folate, from unfortified foods.
The daily recommended intake of folic acid for pregnant women is 400 – 800 micrograms per day (0.4 – 0.8 milligrams), while the recommended upper limit is no more than 1000 micrograms (1.0 milligrams) of folic acid per day.

 Foods That Contain Folic Acid

Below is a list of some foods containing folate or folic acid:
Asparagus that is high in folic acid

Vegetables

  • Edamame
  • Okra
  • Spinach
  • Artichoke
  • Turnip greens
  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Romaine or mesclun lettuce
  • Escarole or endive
  • Beets
  • Potato with skin

Avocados are high in folic acid

Fruit

  • Avocado
  • Papaya
  • Orange juice

legumes-for-folic-acid-naturally

Legumes

  • Beans (cranberry, roman, mung, adzuki, pinto, navy, black, white, kidney, great northern)
  • Lentils
  • Peas (black-eyed, chickpeas, pigeon)
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Peanuts

Meat

  • Liver

Fortified foods

  • Pasta (enriched)
  • Bagel (enriched)
  • Bread (enriched)

Want to Know More?


Compiled using information from the following sources:

1. Dieticians of Canada. (2014, February 25). Food sources of folate.

2. Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition Source. (n.d). Keep the multi, skip the heavily fortified foods

3. The Spina Bifida & Hydrocephalus Association of Ontario. (n.d). Food sources.