Have You Ever Wondered

  • about the difference between the terms "enriched" and "fortified"? Both terms indicate that nutrients—usu-ally vitamins or minerals—were added to make a food more nutritious. Enriched means adding back nutrients that were lost during food processing. For example, B vitamins, lost when wheat is processed, are added back to refined white flour. Fortified means adding nutrients that weren't present originally. For example, milk is fortified with vitamin D, a nutrient that helps your body absorb milk's calcium and phosphorus. According to a recent law, most enriched grain products are now fortified with folic acid to reduce the incidence of certain birth defects.
  • if microwave cooking destroys vitamins? Even if you cook foods properly, some water-soluble vitamins, such as B vitamins and vitamin C, can be destroyed. For several reasons, more vitamins are retained with microwave cooking than with most other methods: very short cooking time, covered cooking, and little or no cooking water.
  • Works with vitamin B12 to form hemoglobin in red blood cells.
  • May help protect against heart disease.
  • Helps lower the risk of delivering a baby with neural tube defects such as spina bifida.
  • Helps control plasma homocysteine levels, linked to increased cardiovascular disease risk.

If you don't get enough: A deficiency affects normal cell division and protein synthesis, especially impairing growth. Anemia, caused by malformed blood cells that can't carry as much oxygen, may result from a folate deficiency.

Pregnant women who don't get enough folate, especially during the first trimester, have a greater risk of delivering a baby with neural tube defects such as spina bifida. To reduce the risk the Dietary Guidelines advise: for women of childbearing age who may become pregnant and those in the first trimester of pregnancy, consume adequate synthetic folic acid daily from fortified foods or supplements in addition to food forms offolate from a varied diet.

Ifyou consume excess amounts: Consuming too much can mask a vitamin B12 deficiency and may interfere with certain medications and offers no known benefits. For adults, the Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) is 1,000 micrograms daily of folic acid, the form of folate in fortified foods and supplements. For teens ages fourteen to eighteen, it's 800 micrograms daily.

How much you need: For folate, the RDA for males from age fourteen through adulthood is 400 micro-grams daily. Folate can come from foods with naturally occurring folate, as well as from foods fortified with folic acid and from supplements.

Women capable of becoming pregnant (fourteen to fifty years) should get 400 micrograms of folic acid daily from fortified foods, vitamin supplements, or a combination, in addition to the folate found naturally in foods. Pregnancy increases the recommended amount to 600 micrograms daily; during breast-feeding, 500 micrograms are advised.

Where it's mostly found: Orange juice, lentils, dried beans, spinach, broccoli, peanuts, and avocados are among the good sources of naturally occurring folate. Enriched grain products—such as most breads, flour, crackers, rice, macaroni, and noodles—must be fortified with folic acid, a form of folate. Some breakfast cereals are fully fortified at 400 micrograms per serv-ing—100 percent of the daily recommendation for many people. Unenriched grain products, such as some imported pastas, may not be fortified with folic acid. Check the Nutrition Facts on the label of grain products to see if folic acid has been added and how much. Many whole-grain breads and other whole-grain products are not fortified with folic acid, but check the label.

Food Folate (mcg) Breakfast cereals, fortified with folic acid (3/4-1 cup) 100-400

Spinach, boiled (1/2 cup) 130

Navy beans, boiled (^ cup) 125

Orange juice (1 cup) 110

Wheat germ (Vicup) 100

Pasta, fortified with folic acid, cooked (//2 cup) 50

Rice, fortified with folic acid, cooked (//2 cup) 45

Peanuts, dry roasted (1 oz.) 40

Bread, fortified with folic acid (1 slice) 30

Romaine lettuce, shredded (V2cup) 30

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