Sources of Folate in the Diet

Natural rich sources of folate are green leafy vegetables as well as citrus fruit juices, liver, and legumes. After folic acid fortification of the food supply, the category "bread, rolls, and crackers" became the single largest contributor of total folate in the American diet, contributing 16% of total intake, surpassing natural vegetable folate sources [71]. Table 18.6 presents data on the major dietary contributors of folate in the diets of a sample of pregnant and lactating Canadian women [70]. Orange juice was the largest source of total dietary folate (11.1%), while enriched pasta products were the second largest contributor (8.8%). Based on the US Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) Dietary Guidelines and MyPyramid, or Canada's Food Guide for Healthy Eating, the grains food group provided 41% of total dietary folate [19, 20]. Thus, women avoiding white bread and enriched pasta to lose weight may be at particular risk of low folate intake.

The principal form of supplemental folate used in the world today is folic acid; however, supplemental 5-methyltetrahydrofolate is now available in some vitamin and mineral supplements, including prenatal supplements. At the time of writing they are available for use in the United States but not Canada, for example.

Table 18.6

Major Folate Contributors to the Daily Diet of Lactating Women Post-Folic Acid Fortification [70]

Table 18.6

Major Folate Contributors to the Daily Diet of Lactating Women Post-Folic Acid Fortification [70]

Serving

Folate

Contribution to total

Food

size

(mcg DFE)

folate intake (%)

Orange juice

1 cup

72

11

Pasta, dry

1 cup

391

8.8

Green salad

1 1/2 cup

77

5.2

Bagels

1 medium

226

5

Whole wheat, rye,

1 slice

14

4.8

and other dark breads

Cold cereals

1 cup

166

4.5

White bread

1 slice

171

4.2

Cream, milk, eggnog

1 cup

12

3.9

Rice, cooked

1 cup

215

3.8

Cake, cookies, donuts, pies

1 mediuma

115

3.3

aExample: donut aExample: donut

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