High folate levels are vital for women of child-bearing age since a deficiency causes birth defects.
Folic-acid is the synthetic form; it is used to enrich and fortify many foods, and is found in vitamin supplements.
Are you still on black and white television, and mainly a meat and potatoes for food? You are at risk. It is time to rack up to colour.
Because of its central place in the prevention of frailty-syndrome none of us should take this lightly; it means a move to crutches and a wheelchair long before our time. This is a vitamin that is vitally important at every stage of life.
This page was last updated by Bernard Preston on 20th August, 2021.
Also known as vitamin B9, it is vital for many functions in the body. In short,
Benefits of folate are well researched.
High folate levels are vital for children; it is strongly correlated with academic achievement.
“More recently, concerns have been raised that folic-acid may not behave
exactly the same as natural forms of folate in the body, and that
consuming too much of the synthetic form could potentially have some negative
- Professor Joel Mason, MD
Another good source is from our citrus fruit list. Folate is a subject for all women of child-bearing age to take seriously; spina bifida and orange juice is a good solution.
I know it is boringly repetitive but those eating foods from a wide range of colours need have no fears of these strange diseases caused by a deficiency of vitamins and important phytochemicals.
Aim for at least half a dozen coloured foods per day; even a snippet of parsley in your salad counts for one. Try to avoid being overly anxious, and feeling the need to count and weigh each item; just enjoy it. To the best of your ability follow the basics; you cannot do better than returning to the meals that your grandmother once put on the table.
We aim for ten or more coloured foods every day; there is a lot of malignant disease in our family, and I have no desire to follow in their footsteps.
Folate is one of the B-complex vitamins, so vital for many functions in the body, and especially a healthy nervous system; hence the particular fascination for the DC.
First look to green leafy-vegetables for foods high in folate.
B9 is one of the water-soluble vitamins, which is thus not stored for long periods in the body.
Foods high in folate should be consumed on a daily basis by everyone, but especially pregnant women, those breast-feeding, children and adolescents. In short, where cells are rapidly proliferating. A deficiency is one of the causes of infertility.
Folate is one of the vitamins, along with B6 and B12, that the body requires to minimise the levels of toxic homocysteine in the body. Large amounts of this protein in the blood is associated with heart disease, stroke and premature senility and Alzheimer's disease.
All ages thus should be consuming foods high in folate. What can be worse than losing your marbles? A deficiency is also one of the many causes of metastatic disease.
DNA is where the body's genetic material is stored. It is rapidly being synthesised in the body, and this can only happen with high folate levels.
Men and women who are infertile should, amongst other things be examining the level of foods high in folate that they are consuming. Those on a meat and potatoes, read black and white, diet are at risk.
It is all about colour.
Cling-wrap plastics, the chemicals that are in our food and those that we smear and spray on our bodies are known causes of infertility; so too are smoking, obesity, and an absence of high folate levels; that is a B9 deficiency.
So too is a shortage of choline in the diet; it is an essential part of methylating toxic homocysteine, which is one of the normal breakdown products of protein metabolism.
Trying to ensure that one has adequate levels of all these mystifying compounds in our diet becomes extremely irksome and would make us neurotic. The first step is making certain that you have at least eight to ten different coloured foods on your plate every day. That might sound intimidating but actually if you ignore the quantity recommended it becomes very simple.
It makes little difference if you have a third or half a cup of spinach; do not fuss is my recommendation. Just make sure you are having more greens.
If you are having difficulty falling pregnant, is it really that problematic to have some berries for breakfast, a lettuce salad with a variety of greens for lunch and fresh kale and butternut for dinner? Toss in a sprinkling of parsley on your scrambled eggs and a glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice and you are home and dry.
One is also far less likely to succumb to tumours of the breast, suffer from constipation and have far more energy for daily living. It really is quite simple if one wants to live long in the land.
A very trying condition in our clinics is a peripheral
neuropathy. It frequently affects the legs causing numbness and tingling
in the feet. In part nerves are dependent on high folate levels and the other B vitamins.
A shortage of red blood cells is not uncommon in women who are menstruating heavily, or folk who have developed a bleeding ulcer from taking anti-inflammatory drugs.
Just as common, and perhaps even more prevalent, are the anemias due to a inadequate iron, B9 or B12, mostly due to dietary deficiencies, but there are other causes, such as a shortage of intrinsic factor in the stomach.
B9 and B12 deficiencies are macrocyctic whereas an inadequate iron deficiency results in a microcytic anemia. The folate level can be readily checked with a simple blood test.
A RBC folate condition is readily treated if the patient is prepared to change their diet to include green leafy vegetables, and other foods high in this vitamin B9.
Low B9 is strongly correlated with premature forgetfulness, senility, Alzheimer's disease, and even personality change. High folate levels are important in the young and old alike.
Homocysteine is the toxic breakdown product of protein metabolism. The
body rapidly converts homocysteine to other substances, but this process
requires the B12, Folate combination of vitamins. Without either,
homocysteine levels rise causing severe health decline. Choline too is necessary.
There has been a suggestion that folate and B12 supplementation during pregnancy may be associated with an allergic dermititis and asthma in the young child.
Two research articles in The Journal of Nutrition and Pediatrics deny any suggestion of an association between supplementation and childhood wheezing and asthma. However, there is confirmation that severe contact dermatitis in young children is indeed associated with supplementation with Folate and B12.
Super high folate levels from supplements during pregnancy is not desirable. It is impossible to overdose by getting the vitamin from your food.
As always, get your essential nutrients from good eating habits, not out of a bottle. Use vitamins and mineral supplementation in moderation only.
Another example: Vitamin E is often thought to decrease the risk of prostate cancer. Indeed, one form of vitamine E (gamma tocopherol) does reduce the incidence of malignant prostate disease.
But the most common vitamin E supplement contains only alpha tocopherol, which competes with gamma , reducing the latter's absorption.
Alpha tocopherol supplementation actually increases the risk of prostate disease.
Interestingly, only a cup of cooked spinach contains over 60 percent of your daily folate requirements. And along with pole beans and radishes, it ranks in my three easiest and most profitable crops to grow.
It just goes on bearing the whole summer through and, in moderate climates through the winter too; high folate levels are not difficult to achieve unless you have an aversion to dark-green leafy vegetables.
Letting your food be your medicine is a philosophy, a way of living, first proposed by Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine. Whilst knowing nothing about folate, he recognised the overwhelming importance of a rounded diet in the health of his patients.
Since the introduction of mandatory addition of the synthetic form known as folic acid to many foods, there has indeed been a very significant drop in the number of cases of diseases like cleft lip and spina bifida.
On the other hand there are now serious concerns about overdosing if you are also taking supplements with the synthetic form. All are agreed, you cannot get too much folate from your food.
Of particular concern are three groups of people.
Taking large amounts of the synthetic form, folic acid, may mask a B12 deficiency which has very serious, even terminal, neurological effects
“There is compelling data that people who habitually get too little folate from foods are at increased risk from colorectal cancer. However, various studies suggest that this increased risk occurs for people who get too much synthetic folic acid as well, but this has yet to be proven conclusively.”
- Professor Joel Mason, MD
It is generally agreed that we cannot get too much natural folate from the food we eat; and that we should limit the amount of synthetic folic acid from supplements.
Finally, the elderly, vegans and those on reflux suppressing medication, for example antacids and proton pump inhibitors, should take it a step further and avoid foods enriched with the synthetic folic acid form.
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About 30 percent is lost in the cooking, so steam your greens lightly. Raw young leaves in our fresh spinach recipes with apples and avocado is obviously even better, but it is much easier to eat 100g of cooked than raw spinach. Snap and lima beans, avocado and strawberries are all high in folate.
There is really no need for anyone to be folate deficient, unless you are still on a black and white diet. Is it not about time to upgrade and move to colour?
Every month I plant a row of lettuce one metre long. It took me yesterday, literally, fifteen minutes. That supplies us daily with more than ample fresh green, folate-rich, leafy lettuce.
Have you got fifteen minutes, once a month, and a small patch of ground? Whether it is one of the causes of infertility, a heart or mental condition, anaemia, pregnancy, we should all be eating these high folate foods.
These are two weeks old. Within a month we will be snipping off leaves every day for our daily benefits of folate. It is so easy; fresh lettuce is essential for the perfect salad.
Add half an avocado, some peppers and herbs, a side dish of hummus and an olive oil and lemon juice condiment and you have the perfect high folate levels meal.
If you are banting then it is vital to have sufficient of these vitamins or you will have a build up of toxic homocysteine; that is literally speaking deadly.
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