A new study from Denmark found that in men, folate deficiency caused irreversible DNA damage that can lead to infertility, mental health disorders, and even cancer. The findings would apply to women as well.
People often think of folate as the pregnancy vitamin, but everyone needs it since it’s key for healthy cell function, says Whitney Linsenmeyer, Ph.D., nutrition instructor at Saint Louis University in Missouri. If you skimp on your intake, you could become anemic, feel irritable and fatigued, or develop the health issues listed above.
Your body doesn’t produce folate on its own. You can only get it from supplements (if your doctor approves) or foods like spinach, broccoli, legumes, avocados, bananas, shellfish, and fortified cereals.
Regardless of your gender or pregnancy plans, you need folate. Men and women should eat 400 micrograms daily, while pregnant women need 600. You’ll get 128 micrograms from a 1/2 cup of black beans, 100 per serving of fortified breakfast cereals, and 59 in about half an avocado. Eat produce sources raw or lightly cooked, since heat and processing destroy the vitamin, Linsenmeyer says.
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