What foods are rich in folic acid, what is this micronutrient for and how much is needed in children, adults or pregnant or breastfeeding women.
What is folic acid and what are folates?
L'folic acid it is an important component of the B vitamins, also known as vitamin B9. More stable and biologically active form of this vitamin, which our body constantly needs (with peaks of need during the first phase of pregnancy), folic acid is the synthetic molecule present in vitamin supplements, not to be confused - therefore - with i folate, which instead are compounds ordinarily present in foods.
In this study we will talk about folic acid referring generically both to acid in the strict sense and to folate: let's see why vitamin B9 is so important, and what are foods higher in folic acid / folate!
What is folic acid used for in our body?
As we have already stated at the beginning of this study, our body is constantly in need of folic acid, so much so that a deficiency can open the doors to particularly harmful consequences, especially if it is the pregnant woman, in the early stages of expectation (from conception onwards) who does not have sufficient folic "resources".
In these hypotheses, in fact, as demonstrated by authoritative scientific evidence, the folic acid deficiency it could be a risk factor for the development of congenital malformations and, above all, for defects of the neural tube, anencephaly, spina bifida. Considering that during pregnancy the need for folic acid increases considerably, it is essential that in this phase the woman integrates the folate that can be taken with your diet with a vitamin supplement based on folic acid.
Foods rich in folic acid
THE folate they are abundantly present in many foods. Think of green leafy vegetables such as artichokes, broccoli, asparagus, spinach and lettuce, or legumes such as beans and chickpeas, or some fruits such as oranges and strawberries. However, the problem is another: despite being present in abundance, there is a reduced bioavailability in food. As an example, think about how fresh vegetables, stored at room temperature, can lose up to 70% of their folate content in a few days. In the cooking process, folate is almost completely destroyed, losing over 90% of its original reserve.
It is precisely for this reason that it becomes essential (of course, upon appropriate medical advice), to always use supplements folic acid: such supplements they will allow the acid to arrive directly in the intestine where, when absorbed, it can help meet the body's needs.
For more information: how to take folic acid
How Much Folic Acid Do We Need? Folic acid requirement
Therequirementchanges in different stages of life. The following is just a general table. The need for folic acid of one's own organism can only be carefully weighed up by one's referring physician, on the basis of one's actual needs: it appears obvious, for example, that during the early stages of pregnancy the intake of suitable levels of folic acid is able to reduce over 60% the risk of the fetus developing a neural tube defect.
- Children up to 1 year - 50 micrograms
- Children from 1 to 3 years - 100 micrograms
- Children from 4 to 6 years - 130 micrograms
- Children from 7 to 10 years - 150 micrograms
- Adults and the elderly - 200 micrograms
- Pregnant women - 400 micrograms
- Nursing mothers - 350 micrograms
Need: folic acid in pregnancy
In this context, the main problem is that the woman often does not know that she is pregnant until the moment in which she has the confirmation of pregnancy and, therefore, until the moment in which, substantially, different embryonic structures have already concluded their development. Our invitation is therefore the one addressed to all women who are planning a pregnancy: talk to your doctor in order to be able to intervene with appropriate folic acid supplements even before conception.
In this regard, and without prejudice to the need to talk about it in full agreement with your doctor, the need for folic acid for a woman planning a pregnancy it is 0.4 mg per day (source: Ministry of Health). According to the recommendations for the prevention of congenital defects, it is necessary to intervene with this quantity at least 1 month before conception and for the entire period in which pregnancy is being sought, up to the third month of gestation.
A higher dosage, equal to 4-5 mg per day, should instead be taken for women at risk, i.e. for those women who have had previous pregnancies with neural tube defects or abortions, with diabetes or celiac disease, or even from other malabsorption pathologies.