Folate

Is it a Vitamin?

Folate is a water soluble B-group vitamin. A daily dose is needed to maintain the levels required by the body. It's needed for healthy growth and development!

Why Take Folate?

During the first 3-4 weeks of pregnancy the brain & spinal cord develop from the neural tube. If the neural tube develops abnormally a neural tube defect (NTD) occurs. Anencephaly, encephalacoele and Spina Bifida are NTD's. One in 800 (50-60 a year) babies are born with a NTD every year in Australia, with Spina Bifida being the most common.

Research related data

Research statistics indicated the incidence of Spina Bifida can be reduced by up to 70% (7 out of 10 cases) by taking folate/folic acid at the recommended dose one month before pregnancy and during the first three months of pregnancy.

Increase Your Intake

These foods contain 50-80 micrograms of folate per serve:

  • Asparagus - 3 spears or 50g
  • Avocado - ½ fruit or 120g
  • Bovril/Bonox - 1 teaspoon or 5g
  • Bran flakes - ¾ cup or 30g
  • Brussel sprouts - 3 sprouts or 60g
  • Boiled dried chick peas - ½ cup or 100g
  • Boiled Soya beans - ½ cup or 100g
  • Endive lettuce - ½ cup or 25g
  • Spinach - ½ cup or 70g
  • Vegemite - 1 teaspoon or 5g

Folate is destroyed when vegetables are cooked at high temperatures for more than a short period of time, and if they are cooked with bicarbonate of soda. The best methods of cooking are recommended as being via; steaming, microwaving, or stir frying. A variety of healthy foods during pregnancy is necessary for growth and development, however a supplement is essential to achieve the recommended daily dose of folate.

Where do I find Folate?

  • Most plant foods
  • Many Multivitamins (Folic Acid)
  • As an additive to some breads and cereals (fortified)
  • In foods listed as containing folate or folic acid
  • In folic acid tablets

Folic acid tablets are not expensive and are available from:

  • Chemists
  • Supermarkets
  • Health food shops

If you need more information about folate, you should contact your:

  • Doctor
  • Midwife
  • Women’s Health Centre
  • Family Planning Clinic
  • Pharmacist
  • Community Nurse

Do I Need Folate?

The National Health and Medical Research Council recommend all women of child bearing age who could become pregnant should take a folic acid supplement.

How much Folate do I need?

The recommended daily dose is 0.5 milligrams (500 micrograms). Note: Taking many multivitamins to reach this dose is not recommended as some vitamins in large quantities may cause other birth defects.

A higher dose of folic acid is recommended for women who are in a high risk group. It is recommended that you consult your doctor if you:

  • have a family history of neural tube defects,
  • have diabetes,
  • take anti-epileptic medications.

If you haven’t taken folic acid tablets and you are already pregnant - consult your doctor.

Despite increasing your folate intake, some babies will still be born with NTD's.

For more information

http://www.wch.sa.gov.au/healthinfo/brochures/healthinfo.html