Vitamin B9 or folic acid: 20 Foods rich in folic acid?

Vitamin B9

Vitamin B9, or folic acid, is a key vitamin during pregnancy. A deficiency can lead to serious malformations of the fetus and a risk of premature delivery. Apart from this particular period, folates have an equally essential role in the body and in particular at the level of cell maturation and renewal.

Characteristics of vitamin B9:

  • Water-soluble vitamin not synthesized by the body
  • Essential role in cell renewal and red blood cell synthesis
  • Found mostly in liver and leafy green vegetables
  • Folate needs doubled during pregnancy
  • Deficiency responsible for fetal malformations, Spina Bifida and megaloblastic anemia

Why consume foods rich in folic acid?

Definition, benefits and roles of folic acid

Pregnancy and folate

Because of the link between neural tube defects and folate intake, it is recommended that women planning pregnancy consume 400 mcg of synthetic folic acid, from fortified foods or supplements, in addition dietary folate intake. This supplementation should ideally begin 3 months before conception and continue through the first trimester of pregnancy.

Cell renewal

Vitamin B9 (folic acid) plays an important role in protein metabolism and DNA production. Folic acid is involved in the production of rapidly renewing cells such as white and red blood cells, skin cells, etc.

Vitamin B9, vitamin B12 and cardiovascular protection

These two vitamins could act in synergy to reduce homocysteine ​​levels. We now know that an excess of homocysteine ​​in the blood is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. A good intake of vitamins B9 and B12 could then participate in cardiovascular prevention.

hair beauty

Folic acid promotes the regeneration of skin appendages (nails and hair) and stimulates the hair follicle. A good supply of vitamin B9 helps strengthen hair and prevent hair loss.

In which foods is vitamin B9 found?

Vitamin B9 is mainly found in organ meats, legumes and some green vegetables. Here is a list of the 20 foods highest in folic acid:

Food                                                                                Servings                    (µg)                    
Poultry offal, grilled or braised 100g 345-770 mcg
Lamb or veal liver, sautéed 100g 331-400 mcg
Cooked legumes 100g 229-368 mcg
Pork or beef liver, braised or sautéed 100g 163-260 mcg
Boiled spinach 125 ml (1/2 cup) 139mcg
Boiled asparagus 125 ml (1/2 cup) 134 mcg
Enriched pasta, cooked 125 ml (1/2 cup) 120-125mcg
Soy beans, boiled or sautéed 125 ml (1/2 cup) 83-106 mcg
Boiled broccoli 125 ml (1/2 cup) 89mcg
Roasted sunflower seeds 60 ml (1/4 cup) 81mcg
Romaine lettuce 250 ml (1 cup) 80mcg
Sunflower seed butter 30 ml (2 tbsp) 77mcg
cooked beets 125 ml (1/2 cup) 72mcg
Sprouted soy beans 125 ml (1/2 cup) 64 mcg
Raw spinach 250 ml (1 cup) 61mcg
Orange juice 125 ml (1/2 cup) 58mcg
Brussels sprouts cooked 4 cabbages (80 g) 50mcg
Okras (okras), boiled 125 ml (1/2 cup) 39mcg
Nuts, hazelnuts, filberts, dehydrated, unblanched 60 ml (1/4 cup) 39mcg
Linseed 60 ml (1/4 cup) 37mcg


How to properly use vitamin B9 (folic acid)?

Use of folic acid

Daily Vitamin B9 Requirements

Folate requirements change throughout life. In pregnant women in particular, it is essential to cover the needs which are then increased to avoid poor closure of the neural tube (Spina Bifida) and malformations of the fetus.

Recommended Dietary Intake (ANC)                                                  
Babies 0-6 months 65mcg*
Babies 7-12 months 80mcg*
Babies 1-3 years old 150mcg
Children 4-8 years old 200mcg
Boys 9-13 years old 300mcg
Girls 9-13 years old 300mcg
Boys 14-18 years old 400mcg
Girls 14-18 years old 400
Men 19-50 years old 400mcg
Women 19-50 years old 400mcg
Men 50 and over 400mcg
Women 50 and over 400mcg
Pregnant women 800mcg
Nursing women 500mcg

*Sufficient intakes

Vitamin B9 food supplements

Vitamin B9 supplementation can be considered to support the immune system, reduce cardiovascular risk or prevent neurological disorders. In pregnant women, folic acid supplementation must be systematic to avoid malformations of the fetus and the risk of premature delivery. It is therefore recommended to take 800 micrograms of folic acid per day, including a diet rich in folate. In other cases, the dosage and duration of supplementation may vary. However, it is strongly recommended never to exceed 1 mg of folic acid per day and to seek the advice of a doctor.

Adverse effects of vitamin B9

Vitamin B9 deficiencies

Vitamin B9 deficiency generally results in macrocytic anemia, nausea, neurological disorders that can go as far as dementia or even tissue inflammation. In pregnant women, a vitamin B9 deficiency can have dramatic consequences: Spina Bifida, growth retardation, premature delivery, etc. This is why supplementation should be considered even before conception.

Excess intake of folic acid

At very high doses folic acid can become neurotoxic and lead to more or less serious disorders of the nervous system. It is recommended never to exceed 1 mg per day without prior medical advice.

Interactions (with other nutrients)

Vitamin B9 seems to act in synergy with vitamin B12, a good intake of these two elements is essential. Certain drug treatments can, on the other hand, interact with folic acid and prevent its assimilation. Thus, oral contraceptives or metothrexate have a negative effect on blood folate levels. In people on treatment, it may then be wise to consider supplementation.

Chemical properties

The molecular formula of vitamin B9 is C19H19N7O6, its molar mass is 441.3975 g/mol. It is a water-soluble vitamin with many roles in the body. Folic acid is, in fact, a metabolic precursor of THF, involved in DNA synthesis. In terms of protein metabolism, vitamin B9 allows the synthesis of key amino acids (serine, methionine, etc.).

While plants can synthesize folic acid, animals and humans must necessarily find it in the daily diet to avoid the risk of deficiencies.


Nutrient history

It was in 1930 that L. Wills discovered the existence of a severe anemia common to many pregnant women from underprivileged backgrounds in certain regions of India. The link between food and this type of megaloblastic anemia is thus established. This form of anemia will be treated by adding yeast to the diet.

Later, researchers will succeed in isolating vitamin B9 from certain foods (liver, vegetables, etc.). Therefore, the study of this nutrient will reveal its many roles in cell maturation and renewal.

It was only in 1980 that scientists were able to establish a precise link between vitamin B9 deficiency and Spina Bifida. These discoveries quickly gave rise to the first recommendations regarding vitamin B9 supplementation during pregnancy.

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