For best fertility and a healthy pregnancy we know we need to be getting enough folate, and for at least 3 months before conception.
But how many women are doing this? Only 20% are taking a preconception supplement containing folic acid at the time of falling pregnant.
Coeliac disease? You’re even more at risk.
At least 10% of women diagnosed with coeliac disease have a folate deficiency, even if they had been on a watertight gluten-free diet for two years.
On the Pill?
The Pill depletes folate in the body and may increase risk of birth defects if you fall pregnant while on it (which occurs in around 1 woman for every 100 who take it in a year).
Up to 18% of women have both copies of the MTHFR mutation, which confers specific requirements for folate (and even more have one copy, which may also change your folate needs). (Read my blog post about MTHFR here).
Folate, the natural form of the vitamin (as opposed to synthetic folic acid) is available in raw vegetables and some fruit, but levels are variable. Unless you are regularly eating unusual foods like amaranth leaves and acerola cherries …
Your best sources of folate are likely to be these:
|Highest folate fruit and vegetables (raw)||Micrograms per cup|
|Sprouts (e.g. mung bean)||63|
|Sprouts (e.g. mung bean)||61|
|Chinese cabbage (e.g. pak choy)||46-60|
Some weird folate facts for you:
Broccoli stalks are higher than the florets.
Some tinned or frozen foods are higher than raw – such as asparagus and frozen blackberries (this may be because they are snap-frozen, and folate starts declining rapidly after harvesting – so ideally pick it straight from the garden and eat it.)
Cos lettuce is much higher than iceberg or leaf lettuces.
Silverbeet has only a measly 5 ug per cup (I must say I was relieved to discover this).
My best tip for a delicious dose of folate, especially for summer in Australia?
A spinach-mango smoothie.
Truly, this is delicious and ridiculously easy, with only two ingredients. Simply blend a mango (remove the skin and seed first!) with 1 to 2 cups of spinach leaves, eat with a spoon and share with a folate-needing friend – i.e. any human being!
What’s your tip for a yummy way to get your folate?
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