Folate is a water-soluble vitamin from the B group and was discovered in 1941. When produced synthetically it is referred to as folic acid.Since our bodies cannot produce this vitamin, we rely on getting enough of it from the food we eat.
Folic acid during pregnancy
Folate is necessary for the production and maintenance of new cells. The recommended daily intake for adults is around 300 micrograms. Folate is especially important during rapid growth (e.g. in the early stages of pregnancy) which is why women require significantly more folate before and during pregnancy. Since on average we consume a maximum of 200 micrograms through food, pregnant women are recommended to take an additional 400 micrograms of folic acid in tablet form per day. It is best to begin taking extra folic acid three months before a planned pregnancy because folate is especially important in the first few weeks of pregnancy. It is during this period that the nervous system develops and the neural tube which surrounds the sensitive spinal cord closes. Studies have shown that a high level of folic acid reduces the risk of birth defects, specifically spina bifida, by 70-100%.
Getting enough folic acid isn’t just important during pregnancy. Various studies indicate that folic acid can also make a positive contribution in other areas including depression, allergies, hyperactivity, dementia, cardiovascular disease, skin ageing and sperm quality.
Foods which contain folic acidThe vitamin occurs naturally in many foods. Wheat germ, which leads the table of folate-rich foods, is an ideal ingredient and can be sprinkled on salads, muesli or cake bases. Other folate-rich foods include fruit and vegetables, wholemeal products, dairy products, pulses and salmon. Since it is very sensitive to light and heat and also soluble in water, between 50% and 70% of the folate may be lost during cooking. That’s why we should all eat uncooked fruit and vegetables from time to time. Cooked vegetables should be chopped as little as possible and, where possible, cooked for a short time only. Retailers already stock around 200 products which are fortified with folic acid. These can be recognised by the folic acid label, which was created by the Swiss Folic Acid Foundation.
SWICA is a health partner of the Swiss Folic Acid Foundation and supports the foundation because this vitamin affects every part of our lives and has positive impacts on health in a huge variety of areas: stiftung-folsäure.ch