Children & Teenagers

Folate is a B vitamin that you need every day. That's because folate is needed by the body for cell growth and development--something that's happening inside of you every day!

  • Folate helps make DNA. DNA tells the cell what it will be and how it will work. Your body makes millions of new cells every day and each cell needs DNA. DID YOU KNOW...the body replaces cells in the small intestine about every 5 days? That's about 17 billion (17,000,000,000) new cells in less than a week!
  • Folate is needed to make red blood cells. Your body makes new red blood cells every day. They help carry oxygen to all parts of your body. Healthy red blood cells help you have the energy for activities like volleyball, basketball, soccer or skateboarding.
  • As you get older and become an adult, folate may help keep you from getting certain diseases, like heart disease and some cancers. It also can help mothers have healthy babies by protecting their babies against serious birth defects.

How Much Folate Do You Need?

Teenage boys and girls (age 14 and older) need 400 micrograms of folate (Dietary Folate Equivalents) every day.* Getting enough folate is especially important for teenage and younger girls whose bodies have begun to change to prepare them for being mothers some day (you know who you are!). They have special folate needs and according to the U.S. Public Health Service and the Institute of Medicine should get 400 micrograms of folic acid every day by taking a multivitamin or eating a cereal with folic acid. Folate is also important to help replace red blood cells, that are lost during a young woman's cycle.

How to Get the Folate You Need

If you take a vitamin every day, you are probably getting the folate you need. Check the Nutrition Facts panel on your vitamin bottle and look for "Folic Acid". Make sure your vitamin has 400 micrograms or 100% of the Daily Value (DV) for folic acid.

You also should eat foods that have folate in them. Foods like cereal, bread, rice, and pasta have folic acid added to them. Other foods have folate, too, like orange juice, beans, spinach, and peanuts. Here are some easy and tasty ways to get the folate you need. Be sure to ask your parent or guardian if you can help make these fun food recipes and before using any kitchen tools or appliances.

  • Add some strawberries to your breakfast cereal.
  • Have a glass of 100% orange juice as part of a healthy breakfast every morning.
  • Mix up a great-tasting smoothie.
  • Try some peanuts for a snack. (Do NOT eat peanuts if you are allergic to them.)
  • Mix up a tasty dip and cut up raw veggies like broccoli and cauliflower or use cherry tomatoes and mini carrots for dipping.
  • Combine a higher fiber cereal with folic acid, peanuts, and dried fruit such as raisins or banana chips to make a tasty trail mix. (Do NOT eat peanuts if you are allergic to them.)

Learn to read food package labels. Become informed and know how much folate and other nutrients you are getting in the foods you eat.

Here are some tips for eating at fast-food restaurants:

  • Try a burrito or taco filled with beans instead of beef or chicken.
  • Add some guacamole to your taco or burrito - the avocados have folate.
  • Try a salad or the salad bar. Choose a salad with lettuce that is darker green in color, like romaine lettuce, green leaf, or even raw spinach.
  • Top your salad with healthy foods that have folate such as orange sections, chick peas (also called garbanzo beans), broccoli, and peanuts. (Do NOT eat peanuts if you are allergic to them.)
  • Try orange juice as a beverage instead of soda.
  • Substitute a fresh fruit cup for French fries.


  • *Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences. Dietary Reference Intakes for Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, and Choline . National Academy Press, Washington DC, 1998.)

Girl playing soccer

Group of teenagers

Folate is needed for proper growth and development. Teenage girls should get in the habit NOW of making sure they get plenty of folate every day.

Considering a weight loss diet? Rather than getting advice from friends, talk with your parents or guardian and get reliable information from a doctor, nurse, or registered dietician.

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