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Okra Is High In Folate (Folic Acid) an Important Vitamin For Preventing Birth Defects

Posted Oct 22 2008 4:37pm

Okra is higher in folate, a natural vitamin B, than even spinach and if you are planning to get pregnant, now is the time to make sure you get enough folate in your diet. Odds of infant neural tube defects can be slashed with folate. To keep your fetus safe, you must get at least .4 milligrams of folate before you get pregnant. There is no time to act afterwards because the defect occurs in the first 28 days after conception, before most women know they are pregnant.

Folate is a water-soluble B vitamin that occurs naturally in food.
Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate that is found in most supplements and added to fortified foods.

Folate helps produce and maintain new cells. This is especially important during periods of rapid cell division and growth such as infancy and pregnancy. Folate is needed to make DNA and RNA, the building blocks of cells. Both adults and children need folate to make normal red blood cells and prevent anemia. Folate is also essential for the metabolism of homocysteine, and helps maintain normal levels of this amino acid.

Anti-Birth Defect Diet:
A daily .4 milligram dose of folate found to prevent neural tube birth defects can be obtained in an ordinary diet. For example, eating all the following in a day would meet the requirement:

1 cup orange juice (.07 milligrams)
1/3 cup All-Bran cereal (.1 milligrams)
1/2 cup cooked spinach (.13 milligrams)
1/2 cup cooked dried beans (.12 milligrams)

Foods high in folate:
Chicken livers, simmered:1/2 cup..... ......539 micrograms
Bulgur, cooked: 2/3 cup.............. ..............158 micrograms
Okra, frozen, cooked:1/2 cup......... ..........134 micrograms
More about Okra
Orange juice, fresh or canned:1 cup.........136 micrograms
Spinach, fresh, cooked: 1/2 cup ...............130 micrograms
White Beans, cooked: 1/2 cup ..................120 micrograms
Red kidney beans, cooked;1/2 cup ..........114 micrograms
Orange juice, frozen, diluted: 1 cup..........109 micrograms
Soybeans, cooked: 1/2 cup ......................100 micrograms
Wheat germ: 1 ounce ...............................100 micrograms
Asparagus, fresh, cooked: 1/2 cup .............88 micrograms
Turnip greens, fresh, cooked: 1/2 cup......85 micrograms
Avocado, Florida: 1/2 fruit ........................81 micrograms
Brussels sprouts, frozen, cooked: 1/2 cup..79 micrograms
Lima beans, dry, cooked:1/2 cup ...............78 micrograms
Chickpeas, cooked: 1/2 cup ........................70 micrograms
Sunflower seeds: 1 ounce ...........................65 micrograms
Oranges: 1 cup ............................................54 micrograms
Broccoli, fresh, cooked: 1/2 cup ................53 micrograms
Mustard Greens, fresh cooked: 1/2 cup .....51 micrograms
Beets, fresh, cooked: 1/2 cup .......................45 micrograms
Raspberries, frozen; 1/2 cup .......................33 micrograms

As you can see from this list of foods with natural folate it is possible to get all you need from food, but it's still a good idea to take a multi vitamin to fill any gaps. Be cautious when choosing multi vitamins even when taking one prescribed by your doctor. Most of these will have synthetic ingredients, not the ingredients found from whole foods you eat. If you don't know the difference in synthetic and whole food nutrients (ingredients) read this article, How Safe Are Prenatal Vitamins?

References
Herbert V. Folic Acid. In: Shils M, Olson J, Shike M, Ross AC, ed. Nutrition in Health and Disease. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins, 1999.
Kamen B. Folate and antifolate pharmacology. Semin Oncol 1997;24:S18-30-S18-39. [PubMed abstract]
Fenech M, Aitken C, Rinaldi J. Folate, vitamin B12, homocysteine status and DNA damage in young Australian adults. Carcinogenesis 1998;19:1163-71. [PubMed abstract]
Zittoun J. Anemias due to disorder of folate, vitamin B12 and transcobalamin metabolism. Rev Prat 1993;43:1358-63. [PubMed abstract]
http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/folate.asp#h9
Food your miracle medicine, Jean Carper, foods high in folic acid, page 490.

More about infant birth defects.

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