Ways of Increasing Folate Folic Acid Intake

As already noted, a woman can increase her folate intake in three ways: eating more folate-rich foods, eating foods fortified with folic acid, and taking folic acid as a medicinal or food supplement. Although all three methods are known to increase folate status, taking folic acid either as supplements or in fortified foods has been shown to be much more effective in achieving this goal than eating folate-rich foods. It is very difficult to achieve a total daily intake of 0.6 mg folate/folic acid from folate-rich (unfortified) foods alone. Furthermore, folate in unfortified food is not as bioavailable as folic acid in fortified food or in supplements. The only practical way of obtaining an extra 0.4 mg folic acid daily, as recommended, is by consuming fortified foods or folic acid supplements, and this should be made clear by health professionals. However, an improved general diet, especially consuming more vegetables and fruit, should be advocated preconceptionally and during pregnancy because it results in an increased intake of other vitamins and nutrients that are important for normal fetal development.

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