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Ask the experts: Folate and pregnancy

Q: “I saw a report on the news about folate and pregnant women. What foods can I eat to ensure I get enough? Are there any foods that inhibit the absorption?”


A: Dietitian Sarah Ley explains:

“Mothers-to-be cannot get enough folate from food alone to help reduce the risk of neural tube defects. Therefore the Ministry of Health recommends that all women who are planning pregnancy take an 800mcg folic acid supplement daily for at least four weeks prior to conception and continue until 12 weeks after conception.

Common and affordable foods which provide good sources of folate for everyone are green leafy vegetables, legumes (dried beans and peas), yeast and yeast extracts, (eg. Marmite, Vegemite and Promite), seeds and fortified breakfast cereals.

I am not aware that any foods inhibit absorption of folate, although food folate can be destroyed during cooking and storage; almost half can be lost this way.”

Date modified: September 27 2021
First published: Jan 2007

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