Understanding the importance of folate in our diet is key to preventing folate deficiency and its related health complications. Learn about the symptoms of deficiency, the foods rich in folic acid, and the daily requirement of folic acid for different population groups to ensure your well-being.

Your diet is more than just fuel. It's the key to your health, and each nutrient has a specific role to play. One such vital nutrient is folate, or vitamin B9. Despite its importance in supporting our cellular functions and overall well-being, folate is often overlooked, resulting in a common health issue known as folate deficiency. A lack of adequate folate affects millions globally, spanning all age groups. With that said, it's clear that knowing about folate deficiency, its causes, symptoms, and folate foods is not just beneficial - it's crucial. In this article, we dive into the world of folate, equipping you with the information you need to ensure you and your loved ones maintain optimal health.

What is Folate Deficiency?

Folate deficiency is a condition that occurs when the body's level of folate (vitamin B9) is insufficient. This vital nutrient helps the body produce and maintain new cells, especially red blood cells, and is also crucial for proper brain health and function. The primary cause of folate deficiency is typically inadequate consumption of folate foods, leading to decreased levels in the body. Certain health conditions, medications, or lifestyle factors like excessive alcohol consumption and smoking, can further exacerbate folic acid deficiency.

Folate deficiency can potentially lead to birth defects, cardiovascular disease, and other health problems. Folic acid deficiency can also occur in conditions like pregnancy or treatments such as dialysis etc. Inadequate intake of green leafy vegetables, changes in mental well-being among elderly individuals, and malnutrition can also be a few of the folic acid deficiency causes.

Symptoms of Folate Deficiency

The following are some of the signs of folate deficiency you should watch out for:

Fatigue and Weakness:

A constant feeling of exhaustion and lack of energy can be one of the earliest indicators of folate deficiency.

Difficulty Concentrating:

Impaired cognitive function, such as trouble focusing, can be an outcome of this deficiency.

Changes in Skin, Hair, and Nail Color:

An unusual change in the colour of your skin, hair, or nails might signal a lack of folate.

Sore or Red Tongue (Glossitis):

Folate deficiency can lead to a painful, swollen, and unusually red tongue.

Mouth Ulcers:

These painful sores inside the mouth can be another manifestation of folate deficiency.

Thus, It becomes significantly important to include folic acid rich foods to avoid these conditions. Additionally, a balanced, folate rich food intake by women decreases the chances of neural tube defects (NTDs).

Foods That Are High in Folate (Folic Acid)

Here are some folic acid foods you can incorporate in your diet:

Cereals and Millets:

Fortified cereals are an excellent source of folic acid. Certain types of millets, such as ragi and jowar, also provide a decent amount of folate.

Pulses and Dals:

Legumes, packed with folate and an array of other nutrients, are an excellent food choice for those looking to up their folate intake. For instance, if you consume one cup (198 grams) of cooked lentils, you're receiving about 90% of the Daily Value (DV) of folate.

Non Vegetarian Foods:

Liver, especially from chicken or beef, is one of the richest sources of folic acid. Certain types of fish, like salmon, are also high in folate, making them folate rich foods.


Leafy greens like spinach and turnip are some of the best sources of folate. In fact, one cup (30 grams) of spinach can offer up to 58.2 mcg of folic acid.

So these were some of the top folic acid foods. Remember, a balanced diet with a variety of folic acid rich foods can generally meet the daily requirement of this nutrient and prevent deficiency. Always consult a healthcare professional or a dietician to get a personalised plan for your nutritional needs.

Daily Requirement of Folic Acid

Population Group  Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for Folate (mcg/day)
Adult men(19 years and above) 300
Adult women (19 years and above) 220

Any increase in nutrient intake, especially in such situations, should be under the strict supervision and prescription of a medical practitioner.

Here are a few dishes you can easily prepare to boost your daily folate intake:

Meal Dish
Breakfast Bajra upma,
Ragi porridge with vegetables
Lunch Jowar rajgira palak roti,
Masoor dal
Snack Palak puri,
Ragi dhokla
Dinner Lemon chicken,
Ragi dosa


Folate deficiency, if left unchecked, can lead to health complications over time. Awareness of its symptoms and causes is vital in preventing this condition. Managing Folate deficiency can be done with a collaborative approach involving primary care physicians, gastroenterologists, and dieticians. By incorporating a balanced diet rich in folate foods, one can maintain an optimal folic acid level in the body. So fill your plate with foods high in folic acid and embark on a journey to a healthier tomorrow.