Hey, you guys, when was the last time you piled your plate high with spinach, lentils, a nice artichoke, and a papaya? Bet the answer is, "Never." Yet that's what you'd need to get the 700 micrograms (mcg) of folate we suggest. Why 700 mcg, almost twice what the USDA recommends? You're not up to speed on folate?
Okay, enough with the wise-guy questions. Answers R Us, and the answer is that studies now show 700 mcg a day puts the brakes on hearing loss and helps keep arteries young (which keeps you and your sex life young). It also lowers risky homocysteine, an amino acid that can up the threat of heart disease and maybe dementia. (What the heck is homocysteine? Check how much you know about this important heart disease marker.)
You're probably getting about 300 mcg of folate in food. That's partly because many foods have been enriched with folic acid (synthetic folate) since the 1990s, when it became clear that folate prevents birth defects of the brain and spinal cord. Getting the other 400 mcg is simple: Take a multivitamin.
We're focusing on folate because some experts now say the average guy in this folic-acid enrichment age is getting plenty. Nope. Folate levels have actually declined, possibly because many people are eating fewer carbs, including fortified ones. Unless you eat a lot of spinach, lentils, and fortified foods -- from pasta to juice -- do your body, brain, and love life a favor and take a multi: half in the morning, half at night, so your levels are stable around the clock. That goes for women -- pregnant or not -- as well. (Need to take extra folate -- and who doesn't? Learn more about what's safe, what isn't.)