Growth and development – this is what Vitamin B9 is most vital for. Growth and development actually comprise a whole set of processes in the human body, with cell division and DNA production perhaps the most important ones, and so Vitamin B9 becomes especially important during pregnancy, lactating, and early growth stages. What is more, it promotes nerve function, helps to prevent osteoporosis-related bone fractures, and can play a role in the prevention or treatment of a number of medical conditions: anaemia, cervical tumours, depression, glossitis, insomnia, myelopathy, ovarian tumours, restless leg syndrome, schizophrenia, uterine tumours.
Unfortunately, Vitamin B9 deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies, suffered often by pregnant women, by chronic alcohol abusers, and by those with poor nutrient absorption disorders like ulcerative colitis. How can you recognise a deficiency? This can by characterized by muscular fatigue, insomnia, depression, forgetfulness, irritability and gingivitis or periodontal disease.
Vitamin B9 actually comprises two compounds – Folate which is found in natural foods, and Folic Acid which is synthetic. Though similar, Folic Acid that is used for fortifying processed foods is absorbed to nearly half the level of Folate. Therefore, it makes much more sense to focus on whole foods to get adequate Vitamin B9 consumption, and for this the Paleo Diet is a great solution, as it promotes a natural way of eating in the name of long-term vitality and health.
How much Vitamin B9 do you need in your diet?
The daily recommended amount of folate is 400μg. Since it is easily excreted from the body, excessive intakes are very difficult to reach.
Which foods can you get Folate from?
- Liver – Whichever your preferred choice of animal, you’ll get a great amount of Vitamin B9 from it. Turkey liver, however, is the richest source, with 173% of your daily need of Folate in just 100g.
- Spinach – leafy greens are another fantastic source for Vitamin B9, with spinach as the forerunner. In 1 cup of cooked spinach, you’ll get 65% of your daily need of Folate.
- Beets – If you’re looking for a Folate-rich vegetable, beets are your best friends. 1 cup of raw beets covers 37.1% of the daily need of Vitamin B9. Beet salad, roasted beets, beet soup – the choices are endless!
- Romaine lettuce – When preparing a green salad, opt for romaine lettuce. 2 cups of this crunchy salad will provide 32% of your daily Folate need.
- Asparagus – In springtime, one of the best sources for Vitamin B9 is asparagus, providing 37% of your daily need in a 100g serving.
- Papaya – For an exotic dessert, reach for a papaya. In just one fruit, you will get 28.9% of your daily intake need of Vitamin B9.
- Avocado – Yet another reason for having a daily avocado is its Folate content. One cup of mashed avocado (time for guacamole?) amounts to 29.6% of your daily need of Vitamin B9.
- Cauliflower – For a Folate-rich change to those beets, reach for cauliflower. In 1 cup of raw cauliflower, there’s 15.2% of your daily Folate need. And it’s a delicious snack when eaten raw!
What else do you need to know about Vitamin B9?
Vitamin B9 is not very stable, and its content undergoes a relevant loss in the case of non-airtight storage, overcooking and reheating of food. In addition, green and black teas counteract the absorption of the vitamin and thus should be minimized if you focus on Vitamin B9 consumption. However, animal products that contain folate are more stable when it comes to cooking than plant products, so you shouldn’t have a problem if you focus on those. Luckily there’s no lack of them in the Paleo Diet!
So, do you think you should focus more on Folate consumption in your food? Maybe you have some experience related to it? Please share it in the comments!