Folic Acid. What Is It, and Why Is It Important?

Folic Acid

What Is It, and Why Is It Important?

The following information is brought to you in partnership by

National Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition
and
Colic Calm

Folic acid (sometimes called folate) is a water-soluble B vitamin that is naturally present in some foods and added to enriched bread, cereals, pasta and other flour-based products.

The main function of folic acid is to promote red blood cell synthesis and prevent anemia.

Folic acid deficiency in infants and small children can slow growth rate, but the incidence of folic acid deficiency in the US is rare.

folic acid leaf

Folate and Folic Acid derive their names from the latin term folium, which means leaf.

How Do I Ensure My Child Gets Enough Folic Acid?

Breastmilk or baby formula

Breastmilk* or baby formula meets 100% of infant folic acid needs.

* For breastmilk to supply infants with sufficient folate, mothers must consume plenty of folic acid during the breastfeeding period.

For children ages 1 to 3, the best source of folic acid is through foods.

arrow Foods Pie Chart Foods
Best Source of Folic Acid in Foods

How Much Folic Acid Should My Child Have?

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for folic acid is set at...

65 MCG

Micrograms

for infants 0 to 6 months of age

80 MCG

Micrograms

for infants 6 to 12 months of age

150 MCG

Micrograms

for children 1 to 3 years of age

How Do I Know How Much Folic Acid Is In Food?

Nutrition Label

The Nutrition Facts Label is a great place to discover how much folic acid is provided by an enriched food source.

Daily values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet for ages 4 - adult.

%DV

Daily Value

=

400MCG

of Folic Acid

A 3/4 cup of most fortified cereals provides 100% daily value of folic acid for children under age four.

What About Pre-term and Low Birth Weight Infants

Currently, there is no scientific evidence for recommending folic acid supplements for all preterm and low birth weight infants.

Low birth weight infants would seem to need more since folic acid is accumulated during the last three to six weeks of pregnancy.

Yet, clinical trials show that supplementing with folic acid does not increase hemoglobin and red blood cell counts very much.

Pre-term and low birth weight infants

Will Too Much Folic Acid Harm My Child?

Vitamin B12

Scientists do not agree on whether high levels of folic acid, from fortified foods and supplements can be harmful.

However, too much folic acid can mask the symptoms of B12 deficiency.

B12 deficiency leads to pernicious anemia, a condition characterized by low red blood cell counts.

Children Ages 1 to 13
30-66%

of children ages 1 to 13 have intakes exceeding the UL of 300-600 mcg/day depending upon their age.

Healthful Suggestions To Ensure Children Get Folic Acid In Their Diet

Breakfast

3/4 cup ready to eat cereal
1/2 cup 2% milk
1 small banana

Morning Snack

3 vanilla wafers
1/2 cup unsweetened fruit juice

Lunch

1/2 cup 2% milk
1/2 tuna salad sandwich
1/4 cup lightly steamed
carrot sticks

Mid-afternoon Snack

2 whole wheat crackers
(unsalted tops)
1 tbsp peanut butter

Dinner

1/2 to 3/4 cup 2% milk
1 1/2 oz diced chicken breast
1/4 cup steamed broccoli
1/4 cup rice
1/2 slice whole grain bread
1 tsp margarine
1/4 cup applesauce

Bed-time Snack

1/2 cup 2% milk
2 graham crackers

Food Pyramid

A well balanced diet will provide 100% daily value of folic acid for most children ages 1 - 3.

Breakfast

3/4 cup ready to eat cereal
1/2 cup 2% milk
1 small banana

Morning Snack

3 vanilla wafers
1/2 cup unsweetened fruit juice

Lunch

1/2 cup 2% milk
1/2 tuna salad sandwich
1/4 cup lightly steamed
carrot sticks

Mid-afternoon Snack

2 whole wheat crackers
(unsalted tops)
1 tbsp peanut butter

Dinner

1/2 to 3/4 cup 2% milk
1 1/2 oz diced chicken breast
1/4 cup steamed broccoli
1/4 cup rice
1/2 slice whole grain bread
1 tsp margarine
1/4 cup applesauce

Bed-time Snack

1/2 cup 2% milk
2 graham crackers

2 servings of
meat, poultry, fish

3-4 servings of
enriched grains

4-5 servings of
fruits and vegatables

A well balanced diet will
provide 100% daily value
of folic acid for most
children ages 1 - 3.

FOLIC ACID. WHAT IS IT AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT

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