This fact sheet is one in a series containing information to help you select foods that provide adequate daily amounts of vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. Following these guidelines will put your diet in accordance with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which focus on nine general topics:
A good food source of folate contains a substantial amount of folate in relation to its calorie content and contributes at least 10 percent of the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for folate in a selected serving size. The U.S. RDA for folate is 400 micrograms per day. The U.S. RDA given is for adults (except pregnant or lactating women) and children over 4 years of age.
The U.S. RDA for folate is the amount of the vitamin used as a standard in nutrition labeling of foods. This allowance is based on the 1968 RDA for 24 sex and age categories set by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences. The 1989 RDA for folate has been set at 180 micrograms per day for women 19 to 50 years of age and 200 micrograms for men 19 to 50 years of age.
More than one-third of the folate in the American diet is provided by fruits and vegetables. Grain products contribute a little more than one-fifth and legumes, nuts, and seeds contributed a little less than one-fifth. Foods that contain small amounts of folate but are not considered good sources can contribute significant amounts of folate to an individual’s diet if these foods are eaten often or in large amounts.
Folate, a water-soluble vitamin, helps the body form red blood cells and aids in the formation of genetic material within every body cell.
According to recent surveys of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the average intake of folate by nonpregnant women and men 19 to 50 years of age met their RDA for folate.
Meat and Beans
Milk, Yogurt, Cheese, Fats, Oils, and Sweets are poor sources of folate!
Eating a variety of foods that contain folate is the best way to get an adequate amount. Healthy individuals who eat a balanced diet rarely need supplements. The list of foods in the table of this fact sheet will help you select those foods that are good sources of folate as you follow the Dietary Guidelines. The list of good sources was derived from the same nutritive value of foods table used to analyze information for recent food consumption surveys of the USDA.
|Some Good Sources of Folate|
|Food||Serving Size||Amount (Micrograms)||% Daily Value*|
|Chicken liver||3.5 oz||770||193|
|Breakfast cereals||1/2 to 1 1/2 cup||100 to 400||25 to 100|
|Braised beef liver||3.5 oz||217||54|
|Lentils, cooked||1/2 cup||180||45|
|Spinach, cooked||1/2 cup||131||33|
|Black beans||1/2 cup||128||32|
|Burrito with beans||2||118||30|
|Kidney beans||1/2 cup||115||29|
|Baked beans with pork||1 cup||9||223|
|Lima beans||1/2 cup||78||20|
|Tomato juice||1 cup||48||12|
|Brussels sprouts||1/2 cup||47||12|
|Broccoli, cooked||1/2 cup||39||10|
|Fast-food French fries||large order||38||10|
|Wheat germ||2 tbsp||38||10|
|Fortified white bread||1 slice||38||10|
|* based on Daily Value for folate of 400 micrograms|
|(Source: Food Values of Portions Commonly Used, 16th edition)|
Folate can be lost from foods during preparation, cooking, or storage. To retain folate:
Most ready-to-eat cereals are fortified with folate. Fortified ready-to-eat cereals usually contain at least 25 percent of the U.S. RDA for folate. Because cereals vary, check the label on the package for the percentage of the U.S. RDA for a specific cereal. Since January 1, 1998, flour has also been fortified with folate.
The serving sizes used on the list of good sources are only estimates of the amounts of food you might eat. The amount of a nutrient in a serving depends on the weight of the serving. For example, 1/2 cup of a cooked vegetable contains more folate than 1/2 cup of the same vegetable served raw, because a serving of the cooked vegetable weighs more. Therefore, the cooked vegetable may appear on the list, while the raw form does not. The raw vegetable provides the nutrient, just not enough in a 1/2-cup serving to be considered a good source.
Browne, M. B. 1993. Label Facts for Healthful Eating. Mazer Corporation, Dayton, OH.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. April 2003. Folic Acid Cereal List.
Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2005. United States Department of Health and Human Services, United States Department of Agriculture. www.healthierus.gov/dietaryguidelines
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, Life Sciences Research Office. Prepared for the Interagency Board for Nutrition Monitoring and Related Research. 1995. Third Report on Nutrition Monitoring in the United States: Volumes 1 and 2. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC.
Subcommittee on the 10th Edition of the RDAs, Food and Nutrition Board, Commission on Life Sciences, National Research Council. 1987. Recommended Dietary Allowances, 10th ed. Academy Press, Washington, DC.
Wardlaw, Gordon M., Ph.D, R.D., L.D., C.N.S.D. Contemporary Nutrition: Issues and Insights, 4th Edition. Division of Medical Dietetics, School of Allied Medical Professions, The Ohio State University.
Updated and revised November 2004 by Marla Murphy, Dietetic Intern, Department of Human Nutrition, College of Human Ecology
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