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The 10 Best Foods Highest in Vitamin B9 (Folate)

Written by Daisy Whitbread, MScN
The 10 Best Foods Highest in Vitamin B9 (Folate)

Vitamin B9 (aka: folate, folicin, folic-acid) is a water-soluble B vitamin with many natural sources.

Folic acid is the synthetic form of vitamin B9 found in fortified foods, like cereals, and supplements. As with most vitamins, the natural form of vitamin B9 (folate) is preferred, and better for absorption.

Vitamin B9 (folate) is required for numerous body functions including DNA synthesis and repair, cell division, and cell growth.

A deficiency of folate can lead to anemia in adults and slower development in children. For pregnant women, folate is especially important for proper fetal development.

Folate is a water-soluble vitamin that is well regulated by the body, thus overdose is rare in natural food sources, and can only occur from supplements.

High folate foods include beans, lentils, asparagus, spinach, broccoli, avocado, mangoes, lettuce, sweet corn, and oranges, and whole wheat bread. The current daily value (% DV) for folate (Vitamin B9) is 400μg.

Below is of the 10 best high folate foods, for more use the nutrient ranking tool to filter by food group or serving size.


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List of High Folate Foods

1 Edamame (Green Soybeans)
Green Soybeans (Edamame)

More Soy Products High in Folate

-18% DV in 1 cup of firm tofu
-12% DV in a 16oz glass of soymilk
2 Lentils
Lentils

Beans High in Folate

-92% DV in 1 cup of roman beans
-89% DV in 1 cup of black-eyed peas
-74% DV in 1 cup of pinto beans
-71% DV in 1 cup of chickpeas
-64% DV in 1 cup of black beans

See all beans high in folate.
3 Asparagus
Asparagus
  • 67% DV (268μg) folate per cup cooked
  • 40 Calories
    Data Source
4 Spinach
A Bowl of Spinach
  • 66% DV (263μg) folate per cup cooked
  • 41 Calories
    Data Source

More Dark Leafy Greens High in Folate

-42% DV in 1 cup of cooked turnip greens
-17% DV per cup of cooked Pak Choi
-8%DV in 1 cup of cooked collard greens

See all 200 vegetables high in folate.
5 Broccoli
Broccoli Stalk
  • 42% DV (168μg) folate per cup cooked
  • 55 Calories
    Data Source
6 Avocados
Half an avocado
  • 41% DV (163μg) folate per avocado
  • 322 Calories
    Data Source
7 Mangos
Mangoes

More Fruits High in Folate

-20% DV in 1 cup of guavas
-17% DV in 1 cup of pomegranate
-13% DV in 1 cup of papaya
-11% DV in 1 cup of sliced kiwifruit
-10% DV in 1 cup of sliced strawberries

See all fruits high in folate.
8 Lettuce
Lettuce

More Salad Greens High in Folate

-18% DV per cup of endive
-10% DV in 1 cup of butterhead lettuce
-10% DV in 1 cup of garden cress

See all 200 vegetables high in folate.
9 Sweet Corn
Yellow Sweet Corn
  • 15% DV (61μg) folate per cup cooked
  • 125 Calories
    Data Source
10 Oranges
Slices of orange

See All 200 Foods High in Folate (B9)

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Health Benefits of Folate (Vitamin B9)

  • Protect Against Heart Disease - Adequate levels of vitamin B9, B6, and B12 have been shown to lower levels of a protein in the blood: homocysteine. Lower levelsof homocysteine has been shown to improve endothelial function, which in turn may boost cardiovascular health and decrease risk of heart attacks.3-5
  • Protect and Repair DNA to Reduce Cancer Risk and Slow Aging - Folate (Vitamin B9) is essential for the maintenance and repair of DNA which helps to prevent cancer. Several studies have associated diets low in folate with increased risk of breast, pancreatic, and colon cancer.6-8 Another study has found that absorption of vitamin b12 and folate is essential for DNA metabolism and maintenance which helps to prevent cancer and slow aging.9
  • Decreased Risk of Alzheimer's Disease - Studies suggest that consuming adequate amounts of vitamin B9 (Folate) over a period of at least 10 years results in a decreased risk of contracting Alzheimer's Disease.10,11

People at Risk of a Folate (Vitamin B9) Deficiency

  • Alcoholics - Alcohol interferes with absorption of folate and increases excretion of folate by the kidneys.
  • Pregnant and Lactating Women - Women who are about to become, or are, pregnant need to be sure theyhave adequate folate in order to reduce risk of premature births, underweight births, and neural tube defects in their infants.
  • People with Malabsorption
  • People on Kidney Dialysis
  • People with Liver Disease
  • People with Certain Anemias
  • People taking Certain Medications
    • Anticonvulsants - like dilantin, phenytoin, and primidone.
    • Metformin - often used for type II diabetes.
    • Sulfasalazine - or possibly other anti-ulcer, anti-inflammatory medications.
    • Triamterene - a diuretic
    • Methotrexate - used for cancer and rheumatoid arthritis
    • Barbiturates - used as sedatives

Warnings

  • Vitamin B9 supplements and fortified foods, usually in the form of folic acid, cannot be absorbed by some people, and may hinder absorption of natural dietary B9 (folate). Be sure to check your blood levels of vitamin B9 after starting supplements to be sure they are right for you.
  • If you take folic acid (vitamin B9) supplements beware the interaction with vitamin B12. Increased folic acid can cure the anemia associated with vitamin B12 deficiency, but cannot cure the neural damage. It is important to maintain both adequate levelsof folic acid and vitamin B12.
  • Liver and shell fish (clams, mussels) are high cholesterol foods which should be eaten in moderate amounts and avoided by people at risk of heart disease or stroke.
  • Marmite is made from brewer's yeast, which is high in purines, and should be avoided by people with gout, kidney disease, or arthritis.

Other Vitamin B Foods

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View more food groups with the nutrient ranking tool, or see ratios with the nutrient ratio tool.

Data Sources and References

  1. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28.
  2. Office Of Dietary Supplements Fact Sheet: Folate
  3. Doshi SN, McDowell IF, Moat SJ, Payne N, Durrant HJ, Lewis MJ, Goodfellos J. Folic acid improves endothelial function in coronary artery disease via mechanisms largely independent of homocysteine. Circulation. 2002;105:22-6.
  4. Doshi SN, McDowell IFW, Moat SJ, Lang D, Newcombe RG, Kredean MB, Lewis MJ, Goodfellow J. Folate improves endothelial function in coronary artery disease. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 2001;21:1196-1202.
  5. Wald DS, Bishop L, Wald NJ, Law M, Hennessy E, Weir D, McPartlin J, Scott J. Randomized trial of folic acid supplementation and serum homocysteine levels. Arch Intern Med 2001;161:695-700.
  6. Jennings E. Folic acid as a cancer preventing agent. Med Hypothesis 1995;45:297-303.
  7. Freudenheim JL, Grahm S, Marshall JR, Haughey BP, Cholewinski S, Wilkinson G. Folate intake and carcinogenesis of the colon and rectum. Int J Epidemiol 1991;20:368-74.
  8. Giovannucci E, Stampfer MJ, Colditz GA, Hunter DJ, Fuchs C, Rosner BA, Speizer FE, Willett WC. Multivitamin use, folate, and colon cancer in women in the Nurses' Health Study. Ann Intern Med 1998;129:517-24.
  9. A Paoloni-Giacobino, R Grimble, C Pichard. Genetics and nutrition. Clinical Nutrition Volume 22, Issue 5, Pages 429-435 (October 2003)
  10. Corradaa MM, Kawasab CH, Hallfrischc J, Mullerd D, Brookmeyere R. Reduced risk of Alzheimer?s disease with high folate intake: The Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging. Alzheimer's and Dementia Volume 1, Issue 1, Pages 11-18 (July 2005).
  11. Wang HX, Wahlin, Basun H, Fastbom J, Winblad B, Fratiglioni L. Vitamin B12 and folate in relation to the development of Alzheimer?'sb disease. Neurology May 8, 2001 vol. 56 no. 9 1188-1194.

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