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Publication #FCS8560

Healthy Eating: Folate1

Linda B. Bobroff2

Why is folate important?

Folate is one of the B vitamins. Our bodies use folate to make new cells. Folate is especially important for women of childbearing age, pregnant and nursing women, growing children, and older people.

If you don't get enough folate in your diet, you could get anemia. You also could be at higher risk for heart disease, stroke, cancer, or memory problems.

How much folate do I need?

All adults need 400 micrograms of folate a day.

Table 1. 

Good Sources of Folate




Fortified cereal, 1 serving

200 – 700

Spinach, cooked, ½ cup


Romaine lettuce, shredded, 1 cup


Kidney beans, cooked, ½ cup


Orange juice, ¾ cup


Peanuts, dry roasted, ½ cup


What foods contain folate?

Figure 1. 

Dark green leafy vegetables like spinach are excellent sources of folate.



[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

  • Dark green leafy vegetables

  • Orange juice

  • Beans and lentils

  • Peanuts

  • Fortified cereals and breads

If you do not get enough folate from the foods you eat, you may need to take a supplement. Supplements contain a form of the vitamin called folic acid. Too much folic acid can be harmful, so talk to your doctor first.



This document is FCS8560 (la version en español de este documento es Alimentación Saludable: Folato (FCS8560-Span)), one of a series of the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date March 2000. Revised February 2006 and September 2012. Reviewed May 2016. This leaflet was developed with funding from the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, in partnership with state, county, and local agencies. Visit the EDIS website at


Linda B. Bobroff, PhD, RD, LD/N, professor, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.