> Skip repeated content

Tips for Getting Folic Acid into Your Diet

Couple Cooking Together

The words “folate” and “folic acid” are often used interchangeably, but there are important differences between them.

Folate is the naturally-occurring form of the vitamin found in green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, yeast, liver and legumes. Folic Acid, on the other hand, is the man-made form of folate that is added to food or used as an ingredient in vitamin supplements. Folate is important in cell growth and development and helps form red blood cells.

While recent studies suggest that this vitamin may play an important role in preventing cardiovascular disease, folate is also important for rheumatoid arthritis patients who are taking methotrexate. Methotrexate treats the pain and swelling associated with RA but also impairs your body’s ability to absorb folate. In order to make sure you are getting a healthy dose of this nutrient, choose folic acid supplements and foods fortified with the vitamin. While it is generally best to get your vitamins and minerals naturally from foods, ironically, folic acid from supplements and fortified foods is better absorbed by the body than the natural form. Consequently, you have to eat about 800 mcg of natural folate to get the amount of folic acid (400 mcg) typically found in a multivitamin.

Many foods are now fortified with folic acid, including enriched breads, cereals, flours, pastas, rice, and other grain products. In fact, a single serving of many breakfast cereals has the recommended amount of folic acid to meet your daily needs. Most people in the United States get enough folic acid in their diet because it is plentiful in the food supply. All adults should take a supplement or eat fortified foods to get 400 mcg/day of folic acid, in addition to a varied diet.

High Folate/Folic Acid Food Sources

Laura Gibofsky, physical therapistLaura Gibofsky, MS, RD, CSP, CDN, is a nutritionist at Hospital for Special Surgery.

Topics: Nutrition
The information provided in this blog by HSS and our affiliated physicians is for general informational and educational purposes, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual problem you may have. This information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a qualified health care provider who is familiar with the unique facts about your condition and medical history. You should always consult your health care provider prior to starting any new treatment, or terminating or changing any ongoing treatment. Every post on this blog is the opinion of the author and may not reflect the official position of HSS. Please contact us if we can be helpful in answering any questions or to arrange for a visit or consult.