Focus on Folate
Folate, also called folic acid, is an important B vitamin. You may have taken supplements before and during your pregnancy to help prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida. Now, folate continues to play an important role in your child’s diet. Folate helps produce and maintain cells throughout the body. It also helps make healthy red blood cells.
Folate is found naturally in many nutritious foods including orange juice, lentils and beans, and green leafy vegetables. Folic acid is also added to enriched grains, enriched grain products and some breakfast cereals.
Most preschoolers in the U.S. have adequate intakes of folate. For this reason, it’s usually unnecessary to give folic acid supplements to your child – be sure to always check with your child’s doctor before giving your child any dietary supplement.
Following these tips will help your child get the folate she needs daily.
- Strive to provide 6 servings of colorful fruits and vegetables each day. One serving for a preschooler is 1/3 cup, and the total daily goal is 1 cup of fruits and 1 cup of vegetables. Examples of fruits and vegetables that contain folate include cantaloupe, spinach, asparagus and broccoli.
- Serve 3 ounces of grains daily. Choose whole grains for half of the grains served and include enriched grains in the other half. Examples include enriched or whole grain pastas, brown rice, and enriched or whole wheat breads and rolls.
- Encourage your child to eat breakfast. Breakfast foods like orange juice and fortified cereals have folic acid. Look for cereals with less than 100% of folic acid per serving. Cereals fortified with 100% folic acid are probably unnecessary.