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Selecting a healthful diet

As the 2000 Dietary Guidelines for Americans states, “Different foods contain different nutrients and other healthful substances. No single food can supply all the nutrients in the amounts you need” [66]. As indicated in Table 1, green leafy vegetables, dried beans and peas, and many other types of vegetables and fruits provide folate. In addition, fortified foods are a major source of folic acid. It is not unusual to find foods such as some ready-to-eat cereals fortified with 100% of the RDA for folate. The variety of fortified foods available has made it easier for women of childbearing age in the US to consume the recommended 400 mcg of folic acid per day from fortified foods and/or supplements [6]. The large numbers of fortified foods on the market, however, also raises the risk of exceeding the UL. This is especially important for anyone at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency, which can be triggered by too much folic acid. It is important for anyone who is considering taking a folic acid supplement to first consider whether their diet already includes adequate sources of dietary folate and fortified food sources of folic acid.

For more information about building a healthful diet, refer to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans ) [66] and theUS Department of Agriculture’s Food Guide Pyramid ) .

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