Food Sources of Folate

Folate is synthesized by microorganisms and higher plants but not by mammals, for which it is an essential vitamin. The most concentrated food folate sources include liver, yeast extract, green leafy vegetables, legumes, certain fruits, and fortified breakfast cereals. Folate content is likely to depend on the maturity and variety of particular sources. Foods that contain a high concentration of folate are not necessarily those that contribute most to the overall intakes of the vitamin in a population. For example, liver is a particularly concentrated source, providing 320 mg of folate per 100 g, but it is not eaten by a sufficient proportion of the population to make any major contribution to total dietary folate intakes. The potato, on the other hand, although not particularly rich in folate, is considered a major contributor to folate in the UK diet, accounting for 14% of total folate intake because of its high consumption. Prolonged exposure to heat, air, or ultraviolet light is known to inactivate the vitamin; thus, food

Table 3 Contributions of the main food groups to the average daily intake of folate in British and US adults (%)

Food group

USA (1994)

UK (1998)

Dairy products

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