Too much folate

I’ve been testing a vegan diet and have been able to adjust rather nicely. I notice a couple of things regarding micronutrients that will need my attention. I will definitely need B12 and D supplements, there doesn’t seem to be a way for me to get enough of these without meat, dairy, or eggs. I will probably also need a calcium supplement. I’m close to minimum requirements but not close enough.

I do have a question, however, on folate. With my current foods I’m actually over the recommended maximum. This is a surprise to me. I hadn’t considered getting too much of a nutrient by eating a basic, healthy diet. My calorie intake is about 2100 so hardly too much. So, is there any risk with too much folate in a diet? I mean, I’m not much over the maximum, but I’m curious if there are any negatives and if I should adjust my food to lower the amount I consume.

Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

Comments

  • @p0wer_lifter

    Hello! As a fellow plant-based eater (and dietitian), here is a summary of the nutrients you need to focus on:

    • B12 - supplement is a must. No plant foods contain a reliable source of this nutrient. The guidelines are either 50-100 mcg per day or 1000 mcg 2-3x per week.
    • Vitamin D - 2000 IU appears to be enough to maintain most people's stores
    • DHA/EPA (omega 3) - there's no consensus on how much to take but we know that ALA (the type of omega 3 in flax, chia, etc.) can't increase blood levels of EPA/DHA to what we see in fish eaters. I recommend 500 mg of algae-based DHA
    • Iodine - meet needs by including ~1/ 3 to 1/2 tsp iodized salt per day
    • Iron & Zinc - increase Cronometer's recommendation by 50%
    • Calcium - if you're getting ~800 mg (as an adult <65 years), I wouldn't worry too much. Because a plant-based diet is more alkaline, we tend to retain calcium better. Plus, technically plant-based calcium is better absorbed than what is in dairy.

    Hope this helps!

    Susan Macfarlane, MScA, RD
    Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
    cronometer.com
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:
    https://forums.cronometer.com/discussion/27/governing-terms-and-disclaimer

  • OH! And you don't need to worry about food-based folate... The upper limit is really only a concern when supplementing "folic acid" (the supplement form).

    In general, getting excess nutrients from food = harmless; getting excess nutrients from supplements = not good.

    Susan Macfarlane, MScA, RD
    Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
    cronometer.com
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:
    https://forums.cronometer.com/discussion/27/governing-terms-and-disclaimer

  • edited September 15

    Perfect. Thank you 🙏

    Your comment on D is interesting. The only vegan supplement that I can find is D2, which I read is not as effective as D3. I’ll assume it’s still good enough.

    I’m also taking a daily dose of chia and flax seeds, so good to know that eating algae is in my future 😖

    And I’ve started adding salt to my diet for not only the iodine but to get my potassium / sodium in balance. Adding salt to foods goes against everything I ever heard about health, but I’ve learned to do it.

    Thank you again, Susan. Hugely helpful post.

    Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

  • My understanding is that humans are generally very efficient at getting rid of excess potassium. I doubt that you actually need the added salt. 1000-1500 mg of soduim daily should be plenty even with potassium intake well above average.

  • Calcium: when I was a vegan I started to research, and drink, Ca-rich mineral waters. Some of'em have so much calcium that they constitute a natural supplement.

  • @p0wer_lifter

    Vitamin D2 and D3 have similar effectiveness at low doses (i.e. 1000 IU).. once you start taking large doses, D3 is more effective. There are some vegan D3s available that are derived from lichens.

    Just a note on algae, I'd recommend a supplement to ensure consistent intake; there's many brands available online and in health food stores.

    Including ~1/3 to 1/2 tsp of iodized salt will give you all the iodine you need, without putting you over your sodium limits.

    Kind regards,

    Susan Macfarlane, MScA, RD
    Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
    cronometer.com
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:
    https://forums.cronometer.com/discussion/27/governing-terms-and-disclaimer

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