It feels like another bad day at work. You’re anxious and tense and can’t seem to remember what you are working on with an important project for the department. You got plenty of sleep last night, around seven hours, yet you’re yawning, and coffee isn’t helping. Your spouse thinks you should see a doctor because these bad days are stretching into weeks. Nobody at work is saying anything directly to you, and you feel they are uneasy with you and not associating as much. After your usual lunch of some kind of fried or processed food from a “healthy” fast, casual, restaurant, you need a nap!
How familiar are these details with you and/or a coworker? Could it be the long hours and transitioning back to the office full-time? There may be some truth to that, and it could be an easy fix you aren’t aware of. Maybe a few adjustments in your eating habits could help you get the energy and focus back before your boss takes you off the project, or worse, fires you!
The symptoms I described are typical of someone who lacks folic acid (folate) in their diet. The good news is you can fix this by adding a few different foods to your normal routine. The bad news is, there isn’t any bad news! Folic acid is crucial for brain and nerve functions. If you are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant, folic acid is essential for baby’s brain and nervous system development. Folic acid can also assist in utilizing protein and forming red blood cells.
You don’t need a large amount of folate on a daily basis, only 200 mcg is the RDA. MCG is a microgram, which is less than a milligram. Do not run out to the nearest supplement store and buy folate pills! While there are no toxicity levels if you take folate supplements, you could get stomach issues for consuming over 15 mg a day. Supplementing folate is best done as part of a B-complex pack, specifically B12. Again, do not go buy a bunch of B12 instead!
Like all other vitamins and minerals, getting them through your food is the best answer. There is no one specific food to eat that only has folic acid in it. Eating a balanced diet with five servings a day of various fruits and vegetables can get you the 200 mcg RDA you need. Fruits and vegetables contain different nutrition profiles with different combinations of vitamins and minerals that are all essential for you.
Eating a salad for lunch is not the be and end all of “healthy” eating. Eating a massive salad can be counterproductive depending on what’s in it. Calories still count and adding lots of dressing, cheese, croutons, and other accessories can turn your salad into a calorie cow! If you want to add a salad to your meal rotation or as a regular side dish to help with folate, add spinach, a slice of avocado, and sesame seeds for some crunch. All of those are good sources of folate and some healthy fats.
If you’re looking for a healthier snack to boost your energy, mix peanuts, cashews, and walnuts. Besides folate, they are good sources of plant-based protein and healthy fats. A word of caution, you don’t need to eat a bowl, a handful is more than plenty. Nuts are high in calories because of their fat content, eat them in smaller amounts.
Summer is grilling season, and asparagus are easy to grill. Asparagus is also a good source of folic acid. Don’t overcook them, as high heat can take away some of the nutrients. Add some cauliflower to a salad in addition to the grilled asparagus, and you have another significant source of folic acid. A fresh piece of fish or chicken makes a healthy meal everyone in your family can enjoy. Make it for friends the next time you have them over. Entertaining can be healthy, and your guests won’t even know it!
A few words of caution on cooking to preserve the folate nutrients. Avoid high-pressure/high-heat cooking methods, processed food items, and exposing these types of food to prolonged periods of light. Keep the suggested foods in a cool dark place for storage to preserve their nutrition profiles.
For a more in-depth analysis of your own eating, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can do a FREE mini antioxidant assessment. The first place to start is learning where you need help. As a Nutritional Therapist, I can provide you with important info that can change your life!