The word folic acid is derived from foliage. Folic acid is commonly found in dark green and leafy vegetables such as:
Other sources of this vitamin include:
Among animal products liver and liver products, whole eggs, and baker's yeast is rich in folates.
Folic acid is also found in fortified foods such as flour, pasta, cereal, bread. Breakfast cereals, for example, are fortified with 25% to 100% of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for folic acid.
Certain countries have mandatory fortification of grains with folic acid. In these places fortified products make up a significant source of the population's folic acid intake.
To make the intake of folates universal and to standardize intake of folates a dietary folate equivalent (DFE) system was established. 1 DFE is defined as 1 μg of dietary folate, or 0.6 μg of folic acid supplement. This is reduced to 0.5 μg of folic acid if the supplement is taken on an empty stomach.
Folic acid is commonly administered as pills or supplements as well. This is required in conditions where the daily need for the vitamin exceeds that provided in regular diet. Some of these conditions include pregnancy, breast feeding mothers, those with inflammatory bowel disease, HIV, those on anticancer drugs and other drugs that interfere with folate absorption and utilization.
Folic acid is a water soluble vitamin. It is thus lost on open boiling and cooking. Folic acid is susceptible to high heat and UV rays as well. It is heat labile in acidic environments and may also be subject to oxidation.