Munch folate for managing immunity

Folate is an essential vitamin, but what is it, where do we get it from and how much do we need?

Folate (vitamin B9) is a water-soluble vitamin, so we can’t easily store it in our bods and need to munch it frequently according to our pals at the NHS [1]. Our body uses it to form DNA and RNA and the breakdown of proteins [2-4], it’s called folic acid in its man-made form and the average healthy adult needs 200mcg a day to avoid deficiency [1]. We mentioned folate in our last vid recipe (where we smashed together some golden guacamole) as it plays a role in managing our immune system [9]. So you can imagine how important it is to eat a varied whole food diet to ensure we’re getting enough of this vibing vitamin, see below for some top sources to munch.

Top sources of plant-based folate (mcg per 100g) [5]

  • 622 adzuki beans

  • 479 lentils

  • 444 black beans

  • 394 kidney beans

  • 311 edamame

  • 246 peanuts

  • 238 sunflower seeds

  • 194 spinach

  • 184 quinoa

  • 172 chickpeas

We are able to absorb 50% from food so you can halve the amounts seen above in terms of crushing that 200mcg a day. You can also see how easy it is to smash that target when you know what to focus on, and this is especially important for anyone trying to, or who have recently got pregnant as well as those who are at risk of heart disease. That’s because folate prevents neural tube defects in a developing feotus which can cause malformations of the spine [4,6,7]. Also, scientists have found that folate lowers homocysteine levels which reduce heart disease risk. [2,8].

So we know it’s vital to eat and has wider health benefits but how do we actually get it into our diets, well here are some recipe ideas:

  • Edamame satay stir fry

  • 5 bean chilli with quinoa

  • Quinoa and spinach salad with sunflower seed topper

  • Lentil dahl

  • Hummus and falafel wrap

  • Black bean fajitas

Any of these tickle your fancy, or do you have some other ways of making sure you’re getting the right amount of this vital vitamin we need to munch regularly?

As always don’t take our word for it, have a read through the evidence below. The information we provide is in no way a substitute for health care or medical advice, always follow the advice of your health professional.


1httpsttps://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-b/ [accessed 03.05.2020].

2] Bailey LB, Caudill MA. Folate. In: Erdman JW, Macdonald IA, Zeisel SH, eds. Present Knowledge in Nutrition. 10th ed. Washington, DC: Wiley-Blackwell; 2012:321-42.

3] Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes: Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, and Choline. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 1998.

4] Stover PJ. Folic acid. In: Ross AC, Caballero B, Cousins RJ, Tucker KL, Ziegler TR, eds. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. 11th ed. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2012:358-68.

5]https://www.ars.usda.gov/northeast-area/beltsville-md-bhnrc/beltsville-human-nutrition-research-center/methods-and-application-of-food-composition-laboratory/mafcl-site-pages/sr-legacy-nutrient-search/ [accessed 03.05.2020]

6] Ulrich CM, Potter JD. Folate supplementation: too much of a good thing? Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2006;15:189-93.

7] Wilson RD, Genetics C, Motherisk. Pre-conceptional vitamin/folic acid supplementation 2007: the use of folic acid in combination with a multivitamin supplement for the prevention of neural tube defects and other congenital anomalies. J Obstet Gynaecol Can 2007;29:1003-13.

8] Clarke R, Halsey J, Lewington S, et al. Effects of lowering homocysteine levels with B vitamins on cardiovascular disease, cancer, and cause-specific mortality: Meta-analysis of 8 randomized trials involving 37 485 individuals. Arch Intern Med 2010;170:1622-31.

9] Mikkelsen K., Apostolopoulos V. (2019) Vitamin B12, Folic Acid, and the Immune System. In: Mahmoudi M., Rezaei N. (eds) Nutrition and Immunity. Springer, Cham