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Folate Health Benefits: Folic Acid Deficiency and Vitamin B9 Rich Foods

Updated on March 28, 2015
Defines folate and folic acid. Reviews the health benefits and use of folic acid. Lists folate rich foods and provides a list of folate deficiency symptoms.
Defines folate and folic acid. Reviews the health benefits and use of folic acid. Lists folate rich foods and provides a list of folate deficiency symptoms. | Source

What is Folic Acid? (Folate)

Folic Acid is synthesized folate. Folate is vitamin B9 and it exists naturally in a variety of foods, primarily fruits and green leafy vegetables. It is also found in enriched grains and cereals.

  • Folic Acid is man made.
  • Folate occurs naturally.
  • Vitamin B9 (folate) supports DNA production and aids in the conversion of food to energy.

Why do we need folic acid? (Folate)

Folate is vital for the development and function of cells and tissues. Folate is necessary for new cell growth (rapid cell division). It is especially important during pregnancy as it aids in fetal development. Women usually do not get all the folic acid we need through diet alone. Taking folic acid during pregnancy may aid in preventing spina bifida and anencephaly

Folate maintain our DNA and RNA and can help the body avoid cancer. Folate also plays an important role in metabolism and helps the body maintain amino acid levels.

Also, folate works in-conjunction with vitamin C and B12 to break down proteins.

Health Benefits of Folic Acid

  • May reduce the risk of colon cancer
  • May reduce the risk of cervical cancer
  • May prevent heart disease
  • May prevent or reduce the risk of stroke
  • May slow memory loss
  • May aid in slowing the effects of Alzheimer's
  • May prevent macular degeneration
  • May improve sleep issues or insomnia
  • May help reduce depression
  • May aid in reducing restless leg syndrome
  • Used in the treatment of vitiligo
  • Used topically to improve gum issues

Do you lack folate? Symptoms of folic acid deficiency

Symptoms Include:

  • Anemia
  • Diarrhea
  • Irritability
  • Mouth Ulcers
  • Peptic Ulcers
  • Growth Inadequacies
  • Glossitis: Swelling of the tongue
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Weakness and Fatigue
  • Weight Loss

Green leafy vegetables, spinach and broccoli are good sources of folate. Folate is the natural form of folic acid.
Green leafy vegetables, spinach and broccoli are good sources of folate. Folate is the natural form of folic acid. | Source

Food Sources

The following are rich sources of folate:

  • Dark Leafy Vegetables: Spinach
  • Legumes: Especially dried beans and peas
  • Lentils
  • Citrus
  • Fortified Breakfast Cereals
  • Wheat Germ

Moderate Sources Include:

  • Egg
  • Asparagus
  • Enriched Pasta: Macaroni
  • Enriched Rice
  • Enriched Bread
  • Avocado
  • Corn
  • Broccoli
  • Mixed Berries
  • Banana
  • Cantaloupe
  • Papaya

Disorders and Conditions Requiring more Folate / Folic Acid

  • Alcoholism
  • Anemia
  • Breastfeeding
  • Pregnancy
  • Patients undergoing kidney dialysis
  • Patients with Liver Disease

Side Effects of Too much Folic Acid

  • stomach cramps
  • diarrhea
  • gas
  • rash
  • irritability
  • may cause nerve damage


University of Maryland Medical Center

Office of Dietary Supplements: National Institutes of Health

Escott-Stump S, ed. Nutrition and Diagnosis-Related Care. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2008.

Zittoun J. Anemias due to disorder of folate, vitamin B12 and transcobalamin metabolism.

Bialostosky K, Wright JD, Kennedy-Stephenson J, McDowell M, Johnson CL. Dietary intake of macronutrients, micronutrients and other dietary constituents:

Sarubin Fragaakis A, Thomson C. The Health Professional's Guide to Popular Dietary Supplements. 3rd ed. Chicago, IL: American Dietetic Association; 2007.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this hub should not be construed as personal medical advice or instruction. However, all information is research based. Please consult a physician for medical and dietary advice and treatment. Folate or folic acid deficiency should not be assumed or treated without the supervision of a medical professional.

© 2012 Marisa Hammond Olivares


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    • missolive profile imageAUTHOR

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 

      7 years ago from Texas

      Ruchira, good for you! Glad to hear you are taking care of yourself. Thanks for the votes.

      RealHousewife, now you know. Happy to see you...stay healthy!

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 

      7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Ok I knew folic acid was good for you - but I did not know why. I kept meaning to look that up some day and I am so glad you did:) Thank you! Now I know!

    • Ruchira profile image


      7 years ago from United States

      informative hub, missolive.

      I usually take 1/2 mg folic acid tabs each day 'cause of it's benefits.

      voted up as useful

    • missolive profile imageAUTHOR

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 

      7 years ago from Texas

      prasetio3o, thanks! Glad you found this to be helpful and informative. I appreciate the votes and it is always a pleasure to spot you on one of my hubs.

    • prasetio30 profile image


      7 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Very informative hub. I learn many things here. Thanks for writing and share with us. Voted up! Cheers, Prasetio

    • missolive profile imageAUTHOR

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 

      7 years ago from Texas

      Just Ask Susan, Good for you! Glad to hear you are taking care of your folate needs. Glad to see you.

      sen.sush23, Thank you so much for your wonderful compliment. I appreciate you reading, voting and commenting. Folate is especially important in pregnant women. It is good to know there are programs available for its distribution in India.

    • sen.sush23 profile image


      7 years ago from Kolkata, India

      Missolive, this is some information that is very relevant, particularly for the third world country and women. Often, women suffer the most due to lack of folic acid, and so many countries, for example in India, there are programs for distributing folic acid to pregnant women. The different effects of lack of Folic acid on physiology is very informative. Voted up.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      After reading your hub I'm happy to say I shouldn't be deficient at all in folate. Very informative hub!

    • missolive profile imageAUTHOR

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 

      7 years ago from Texas

      RTalloni, thank you. I appreciate your support.

      beingwell, spinach and broccoli is so good for us. Glad to hear you are including it in your diet.

      susiebrown, I love it! Glad to have added to your 'database' :)

      cclitgil, your poor hubby. I do hope he gets all of his dental issues taken care of. I'm sure you will get him all the nutrients he needs.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      7 years ago from Western NC

      Folic acid - so very essential! Thank you for sharing this. It's well-researched and now I know just where to look if I ever need to reference what foods to eat with high amounts of folic acid. I'm also going to make sure my hubby gets more folic acid to help strengthen his gums - with his bad tooth. Haha.

    • susiebrown48 profile image


      7 years ago from Clearwater, FL

      Your article just encompassed a whole bunch of what I didn't know, that I didn't know! Thanks!

    • beingwell profile image


      7 years ago from Bangkok

      Great hub! I really enjoy spinach and brocs! Good to know I'm loading up daily on my folate.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks for important yet concise info on folic acid deficiency and foods.


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