If women consumed the recommended amount of folic acid before and during early pregnancy, up to 70 percent of birth defects such as spina bifida could be prevented. The best way to guarantee you’re getting enough folic acid to take a prenatal vitamin containing 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid. You should also add the following five foods high in folic acid to your diet:
- Fortified cereals. Most fortified cereals contain between 100-400 mcg of folic acid in each serving. Have a bowl for breakfast with low-fat milk. Sprinkle some cereal on yogurt for a healthy snack during the day.
- Spinach. One cup of spinach (cooked) contains about 260 mcg of folic acid. Use spinach in salads. Or add some to your favorite lasagna recipe. You will also find plenty of folic acid in other greens, such as collard, turnip and mustard greens.
- Beans. Fresh beans such as green beans and peas are tasty to eat and easy to cook. Their high content of folic acid along with other nutrients is a good enough reason to include them in your daily diet. Replace kidney beans for half the meat you would normally use in chili. Make tacos using black beans and onion instead of ground beef.
- Citrus fruits. Many fruits contain folic acid, but citrus fruits rank the highest. Oranges are an especially rich source of folic acid. Grab an orange as you head out the door to enjoy later as a snack. Other fruits rich in folic acid include papaya, grapefruit, grapes, banana, cantaloupe, and strawberries.
- Cooked lentils. A half-cup of hearty legumes contains 180 mcg of folic acid, as well as plenty of protein and fiber. Have them as a side dish with dinner or toss them in salads or soups. They’re also a great protein source for vegetarians.
During months four to nine of your pregnancy, it is recommended that you increase your folic acid intake to 600 mcg. Learn more about Mother & Baby Care about Baptist Health or sign up for a Labor and Delivery Tour.