Foods rich in folic acid and vitamin B12

Why are folic acid and vitamin B12 so important

Folic Acid and vitamin B12 are needed for body functioning and for normal growth A lack of these vitamins causes a type of anaemia called megaloblastic anaemia

Causes of folic acid deficiency

  • Poor eating habits
  • Poor absorption
  • Increased requirements e.g. due to growth or pregnancy
  • Certain types of medication
  • Certain disease conditions
  • Alcoholism
  • Oral contraceptives (the "pill")

Symptoms of folic acid deficiency

  • Poor growth
  • Smooth, red and painful tongue
  • Stomach and intestinal problems e.g. diarrhoea, constipation
  • No appetite
  • Fatigue / tiredness

Foods rich in folic acid

Meat Legumes Starches Fruit and vegetables
Liver  (best source0 Dried beans Whole grain breads Spinach
Chicken giblets Lentils Wheat flour Beetroot
Kidney Split peas (Dahls) Potato Brussel Sprouts
Egg yolk Soya Products Sweet potato Broccoli
  Almonds   Cabbage
  Nuts   Asparagus

Important Guidelines

  • Include more foods that are high in Folic Acid in the diet
  • Fruit and vegetables should be eaten raw whenever possible as cooking destroys Folic Acid
  • Avoid alcohol in the diet as it leads to Folic Acid deficiency
  • Pregnant women have higher requirements for Folic Acid and should take Folic Acid supplements as advised by the doctor/dietician/nurse.
  • Increase the use of wheat flour and soya flour in baking and food preparation

Causes of vitamin B12 Deficiency

  • Eating a diet that contains no meat or animal products
  • Poor absorption due to certain disease conditions or surgery
  • Surgery to the stomach or intestine
  • Oral contraceptives (the "pill")
  • Smoking

Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Similar symptoms to that of Folic Acid deficiency (see above) including:

  • Nerve damage
  • Numbness in hands and feet
  • Tingling (pins and needles) in hands and feet
  • Weakness in legs
  • Pale skin
  • Poor memory
  • Poor muscle coordination

Foods rich in Vitamin B12

  • Meat: liver best source; beef/mutton; chicken; pork/ham; fish, whole egg
  • Dairy products: milk; cheese; yoghurt; maas

Important Guidelines

  • Include more foods high in Vitamin B12 in the diet
  • Liver should be included more often in the diet as it is an excellent source of Vitamin B12, folic acid, iron and other important nutrients
  • Strict vegetarians, who do not have any dairy products, may require Vitamin B12 supplements

Complied by the KwaZulu-Natal Dietitians : Department of Health

Quick Links

This page last edited on 17 July, 2023

The materials on this website may be copied for non-commercial use as long as our copyright notice and website address are included.

Copyright 2014 - All Rights Reserved - KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health

Disclaimer Website by KZN Department of Health