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Folate deficiency

  • Alternative Names

    Deficiency - folic acid, Folic acid deficiency


    The best way to get the daily requirement of all essential vitamins is to eat a balanced diet that contains a variety of foods from the Food Guide Pyramid. Most people in the United States eat enough folic acid because it is plentiful in the food supply.

    Folate occurs naturally in the following foods:

    • Beans and legumes
    • Citrus fruits and juices
    • Wheat bran and other whole grains
    • Dark green leafy vegetables
    • Poultry, pork, and shellfish
    • Liver

    The Institute of Medicine's Food and Nutrition Board recommends that adults should have 400 micrograms of folate daily. Women capable of becoming pregnant should receive this amount with folic acid supplements, not just fortified foods, to ensure the proper daily intake.

    Specific recommendations depend on a person's age, gender, and other factors (such as pregnancy). Many foods now have extra folic acid added to help prevent birth defects.

    See Folic acid in diet for the full folic acid requirements by age group.

    See Folic acid and birth defect prevention for more information on folic acid requirements during pregnancy.


    Antony AC. Megaloblastic anemias. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 170.

    Hamrick I, Counts SH. Vitamin and mineral supplements. Wellness and Prevention. 2008;35:729-747.