Healthy Eating: Folate1

Linda B. Bobroff 2

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


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.
Figure 1.  Dark green leafy vegetables like spinach are excellent sources of folate.
Credit: iStockphoto

  • 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.


1. 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, September 2012, and June 2019. 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
2. Linda B. Bobroff, PhD, RDN, professor emerita, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

Publication #FCS8560

Date: 2019-06-24
Bobroff, Linda B

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  • Linda Bobroff