Folate is vitamin b9. It is an important nutrition for us. As the saying goes too much of anything is fit for nothing the level of folate should be appropriate. Being water-soluble it is easy for our body to excrete the excess folate. However we should ensure its optimum level and take appropriate folic acid dose.
Many of us know about recommended dietary allowance RDA for nutrition. When it comes to this nutrition the reference is with regard to folate equivalent. There is no general awareness about this basic concept. This is because food folate is assimilated in our body at a reduced quantum compared to folic acid we take directly. You have to adjust folic acid dose accordingly.
What is food folate and what is folic acid? They are same in substance but name differs according source. Food folate is the nutrition naturally available in vegetables and fruits like spinach, broccoli, green turnip, orange, pineapple etc. Pig liver has folate. When we consume these natural food we say it is food folate. Our body bio synthesis and converts into folic acid. This is how the loss happens. If we take folic acid directly from external sources like fortified bread or breakfast cereals or natural supplement it directly gets into our body. This is the difference. Accordingly the RDA is expressed in dietary folate equivalent DFE.
There is a simple equation. 1 Dietary Folate Equivalent = 1 mcg food folate = 0.6 mcg folic acid.
For example if one orange has 20 mcg of folate and your daily requirement is 400 mcg you should take 33 oranges and not 20 oranges. However if you take folic acid supplement of 400 mcg it simply substitutes 33 oranges! This is the fact of folic acid dose.
I referred 400 mcg because all adults need 400 mcg daily. This is based on scientifically observed test results from 95% to 98% of healthy people. However there is no such reference for babies because no scientifically proved data is available. However adequate intake AI is developed for infants based on the health of the babies who were provided with breast milk. Accordingly for infants of 0 to 6 months the requirement is 65 mcg per day and beyond 6 months and upto 12 months it should be 80 mcg per day. Please be aware that these are only best fit reference and believed to be reasonable and no scientific data to prove.
There are many health benefits of folate. Inadequate folate leads to anemia because it is required for production of red blood cells. Heart palpitation, loss of weight, loss of appetite etc., may be observed. It is also important for cell formation and cell maintenance. It is best considered for cancer prevention due to its ability to collaborate with anti oxidant nutrition.
The essential part of folate is felt for any child-bearing woman. It is concluded that this nutrition plays a vital role in fetus to ensure proper foundation for spine and brain. That is the reason for recommending adequate folate for pregnant woman. Pregnant woman should take 600 mcg of folic acid dose daily and continue for 3 months after pregnancy.
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