Thursday, September 15, 2011

Do You Have Sex? Eat Folate!

Babies, parenting, crazy Christians, sex, and how Christians are bad at talking about sex. Budgeting, baking versus cooking, and how your spouse resembles your siblings. Thinking your pregnant and being completely wrong. These are topics my friend Laura and I covered today. Turns out she had mono rather than malnutrition, but the experiences were similar!

My siblings and I with our significant others.
Does your spouse have common traits with your siblings?

The possibility of an unplanned pregnancy exists for any woman of childbearing age who has sex. Regardless of whether or not you intend to get pregnant, it can happen. With this in mind, I would like to extol the virtues of folate, whose synthetic secret identity is folic acid.

Folate is a B vitamin important for production of new cells. It is used to build DNA and RNA. It is necessary to produce red blood cells and prevent anemia. In short, it is essential for unborn babies. Unfortunately, babies' need for folate is highest during the first month of pregnancy, before most mothers know they are pregnant.

Summary: If you're having sex, eat folate.

A folate deficiency can cause anemia in you and low birth weight, premature birth, and neural tube defects in your baby. Any sexually active woman of child-bearing age should have at least 400μg of folate/240μg of folic acid daily. During pregnancy, this increases to 600μg of folate/360μg of folic acid. Breastfeeding moms should have 500μg of folate/300μg of folic acid. (Folic acid, although synthetic, is easier to absorb, so recommended daily intake is lower.)

Personally, I take a prenatal vitamin supplement. Many cereals and grains are enriched with folic acid and may provide the full 400μg in one serving. Read food labels! However, many people prefer to avoid synthetic vitamins. With this in mind, I offer you the following list of foods naturally high in folate.
  1. Calf liver, 3 oz, 645μg
  2. Lentils, 1/2 cup cooked, 179μg
  3. Pinto beans, 1/2 cup cooked, 147μg
  4. Garbanzo beans / chickpeas, 1/2 cup cooked, 141μg
  5. Spinach, 1/2 cup boiled, 131μg
  6. Asparagus, 1/2 cup boiled, 131μg
  7. Black beans, 1/2 cup cooked, 128μg
  8. Navy beans, 1/2 cup cooked, 127μg
  9. Kidney beans, 1/2 cup cooked, 115μg
  10. Collard greens, 1/2 cup cooked, 88μg
  11. Turnip greens, 1/2 cup cooked, 85μg
  12. Romaine lettuce, 1 cup, 76μg
  13. Beets, 1/2 cup boiled, 68μg
  14. Split peas, 1/2 cup cooked, 64μg
  15. Green peas, 1/2 cup, 60μg
Eat folate, save a life.


  1. That picture is the cutest thing ever--the colors, I love it!

    Also, great PSA. I took folic acid supplements for about 8 months before I became pregnant, and I remember buying them on my lunch break at work once and hiding them in my bag. Even though I worked with people in the know about pregnancy and such, I thought that saying "all women of child-bearing age should ensure they are getting enough folic acid" might still sound suspicious! Now I am trying to get back in the habit of taking my prenatals (for breastfeeding, not pregnancy!), since I seemed to just sort of stop doing it a few months ago.

  2. My mom got all of us shirts for Christmas, it was fun. :-)
    You could get one of those pill boxes old people use. Then at least you'd remember after a crazy day if you'd had it yet!