Nutrition · Pregnancy

Why do I need folate in pregnancy?

Avocado and Spinach Smoothie

Folate is a vitamin important for cells to grow and divide in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy when the fetus is being developed. It is also important for the rest of your pregnancy as it helps produce extra blood and helps the baby to grow. Our pregnant body needs 600mcg of folate daily.

50% of pregnancies are unplanned and most of us only get about 200mcg of folate in our diet.  That is why we recommend women in child bearing age or who are pregnant have a multivitamin (with at least 400mcg of folate) every day to prevent neural tube defects in their baby.

Wondering where you get folate from?

Here are the top 10 foods that have the most amount of folate:

  1. Lentils,  ¾ cups have about 265mcgBowl full of black eyed peas
  2. Black eyed peas, ¾ cups have 263mcg
  3. Spinach, boiled ½ cup have  139mcg
  4. Asparagus, boiled 6 spears,  have 134mcg
  5. Chickpeas, canned ¾ cup have 119mcg
  6. Kidney Beans, canned ¾ cups have  97 mcg
  7. Split peas, boiled  ¾ cups have 94mcg
  8. Broccoli, ½ cup have 89mcg
  9. Avocado, ½ medium size have about 81mcg
  10. Sunflower seeds, shelled and roasted ¼ cup have  77mcg

There are other foods such as sweet corn, peanuts, green peas, brussel sprouts, orange, eggs, cauliflower, walnuts, banana and cantaloupe, that have folate too, but in much smaller amounts.

A synthetic version of folate called folic acid is also added to certain foods that can help you reach your daily intake.  These foods include pasta, bakery products and breads made with enriched wheat flour. Look for “enriched white flour” or “enriched all-purpose white flour” in the ingredients list of the products.

So make sure to include these foods in your daily diet to help increase your folate intake.

If you want more tips or have any questions, connect with a health professional via eChat or call (416) 338-7600.

2 thoughts on “Why do I need folate in pregnancy?

  1. I worked as a nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit and it was always heartbreaking to take care of the babies with a myelomeningocele. This post is so important and the information is crucial! Awesome job!

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