We’ve all heard how important folic acid supplements are for pregnancy, but how can you get it from food? Get to know different sources that can provide the body with what it needs.


Chances are, you’ve heard how important folate, or vitamin B9, is for pregnancy. That’s because when it comes to fertility and a healthy pregnancy, folate is your friend. This goes for women who’re using assisted reproductive technologies, like IVF, and women trying get pregnant without the help of these treatments.

It’s important for all women of childbearing age to get enough folate.

Low folate levels can cause hyperhomocysteinemia (fancy for high homocysteine blood levels), which is linked to problems in getting and staying pregnant. On the other hand, the right amount of folate reduces the risk of neural tube defects in developing babies.

Fortunately, folate and folic acid can be found in a lot of different foods…but what’s the difference between folate and folic acid?

Folic acid is the man-made version that’s used to fortify grain foods like breads, cereal, and pastas. It can also be found in supplements like multivitamins and prenatal vitamins. Folate, on the other hand, is found naturally in many foods.

While you can’t get too much from foods that naturally contain folate, it is possible to get too much folic acid from supplements and fortified foods. (no more than 1000 mcg, unless prescribed by your doctor.)

Focus on getting this important B vitamin from foods such as:

  • Legumes: beans, peas, and lentils of all kind!
  • Quinoa
  • Spinach
  • Hass Avocados
  • Mangos

For a complete list of foods full of folate, check out USDA’s Nutrient Database.

With so many folate-rich foods to choose from, here are a few ways you can incorporate them into your meals and snacks:

  • Add black beans to salads and chickpeas to pasta dishes.
  • While you’re at it, add some quinoa to that salad too!
  • Use spinach in place of iceberg lettuce on sandwiches, burgers, and in wraps.
  • Slather your toast with a mashed avocado in place of butter.
  • Add cubed or chopped mango to your morning smoothie or oatmeal.

Remember, there’s no shortage of great tasting ways to naturally add some B9 into your life, to give life!

Adapted from the original article.

Kendra Tolbert, MS, RDN, CDN, CLC is a registered dietitian nutritionist, certified lactation counselor, and certified aromatherapist based in Alexandria, VA. Through her private practice, she helps women and couples prepare for pregnancy and enjoy healthier, happier pregnancies. Learn more about Kendra at Live Fertile.