In our efforts to stay healthy, we look for new and exciting foods that are considered very good for our well-being.
We also try to keep up with the latest and popular ways of exercising to stay fit and strong.
Yet, while we are busy trying to be healthy, we might forget about an essential nutrient that exists inside our bodies, and that’s folate.
This nutrient is good for us because it helps to make sure that our nerves work well and heal the cells in our blood.
Keeping blood folate levels just right isn’t as hard as it might seem.
In this blog post, we’ll uncover easy and effective ways to boost and sustain your blood folate levels.
Before we begin, here are few things you need to keep in mind about folate:
- Folate is especially for women who are pregnant and those planning to become pregnant.
- Folate deficiency during pregnancy increases the risk of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida.
- It helps to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Folate may also help improve cognitive function in older adults.
- The normal range for blood folate levels is 2.7 to 17.0 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL).
What is Folate?
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Folate is a water-soluble B-vitamin that our body needs for biological processes. It’s often confused with folic acid, which is its synthetic form commonly used in supplements and fortified foods.
Folate, found naturally in various foods, is more readily absorbed and used by the body.
Foods like spinach, kale, legumes, avocados, and citrus fruits are excellent sources of dietary folate, helping you meet your daily needs.
What Does Folate Do in The Body?
One of the main jobs of folate is to help our body make new DNA and divide cells. These processes are essential for the growth and repair of our tissues.
Folate helps our body make red blood cells, which prevents anemia and makes sure oxygen moves around our body.
For pregnant moms, adequate folate levels are important for fetal growth, and reduces the risk of neural tube defects.
In addition, folate keeps your nervous system healthy, and also helps your brain work better.
Symptoms of Folate Deficiency
Folate deficiency can manifest in various ways. Common symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Mouth sores
- Numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
People who are at higher risk of folate deficiency include pregnant women, breastfeeding moms, elderly people, and those with certain medical conditions affecting nutrient absorption.
How to Keep Your Blood Folate Levels in Check
There are a number of things you can do to keep your blood folate levels in check. Here are some tips:
1. Eat a Folate-Rich Diet
Incorporating folate-rich foods into your daily diet is a delicious way to maintain optimal levels.
Dark leafy greens like spinach and broccoli are excellent choices, as well as asparagus, oranges, lentils, and chickpeas.
Get creative with recipes to include these nutrient-packed foods in your meals and snacks.
The recommended daily intake (RDI) of folic acid for adults is 400 micrograms (mcg).
2. Take a Folic Acid Supplement
Sometimes, it can be difficult to get enough folate just from the food you eat.
In situations like this, taking folate supplement is helpful, especially during pregnancy, and when a healthcare provider advises you to do so.
When taking supplements, choose the ones that have 5-MTHF because your body can absorb and use it better.
Although, some foods are fortified with folic acid, they may not provide the full range of nutrients available in natural folate-rich sources.
3. Avoid Drink Too Much Alcohol
Your lifestyle affects how much folate you have in your blood.
If you drink lots of alcohol, it makes it hard for your body to absorb and use folate, which can cause certain deficiencies.
Smoking also has a similar effect, showing how important it is to have a healthy lifestyle.
On the other hand, daily exercises can help your body with folate and make you feel better. So, it’s a great thing to include in your routine.
4. Be Aware of Medications
If you’re taking any of these drugs, make sure you talk to your doctors about possible interactions with other things you may be taking.
They might suggest changing how much folate you get from your food or taking supplements.
5. Get Regular Blood Tests
To make sure your folate levels remains optimal, think about getting regular blood tests.
These tests can help identify any imbalances, allowing you take the right actions quickly.
Discuss the results with your healthcare provider, who can guide you on dietary adjustments and supplementation if necessary.
Folate is a nutrient that our body needs to do things, like making new DNA, supporting cell division, and keeping our blood cells healthy.
For pregnant women, folate is super important because it helps prevent birth defects in the unborn child.
To keep your folate levels in check, by eating folate-rich foods like leafy greens, citrus fruits, and legumes.
If needed, you can take folic acid supplement, but remember to talk to your healthcare provider, during pregnancy.
Try to avoid alcohol and smoking, and stay physically active to support your folate levels.
Check your blood folate levels on a consistent basis by doing some lab tests, and then discuss the results with your doctor, for the right dietary adjustments, and knowing how much folate supplement you’ll need.