Folate for Breast Cancer

If you drink alcohol you might consider getting more folate in your diet. A recent Harvard study found that, among women who consumed 15 grams of alcohol per day (about 1-1/2 glasses of beer or wine), those with the highest daily intake of folate (600 micrograms/day) had a 45 percent lower risk for breast cancer compared with women with the lowest folate intake (150-299 micrograms/day).19 It’s thought that alcohol interferes with the transport and metabolism of folate, and may deprive body tissues of this B vitamin, which is essential to DNA synthesis.

To help you meet the recommended daily intake of 400 micrograms a day, practice the following:

• Eat spinach, asparagus and artichokes more often. These vegetables have the most folate, with spinach leading the pack.

• Drink a glass of orange juice with your morning meal.

• Use lentils and other legumes in pasta sauces, chilies and tacos.

• Most often, choose whole-grain breads and cereals.

• Take a multivitamin and mineral supplement or a B complex supplement to ensure you’re meeting your needs.

• If you take separate folic acid supplements, be sure to buy one that has vitamin B12 added (folic acid is the synthetic form of folate found in vitamin pills and fortified foods; folate refers to the vitamin as it occurs naturally in foods).

• Refer to my list of folate-rich foods on page 7 in chapter 1.

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