*Corresponding author:Jagdish Singh, Principal Scientist & Head, Division of Basic Sciences ICAR-Indian Institute of Pulses Research, Kanpur-208 024, UP, India
Received: March 09, 2018; Published: April 10, 2018
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Folate is a B vitamin that occurs naturally in foods such as green leafy vegetables, citrus fruit, and beans. Folic acid is man-made (synthetic) folate. It is found in supplements and added to fortified foods. Folate has many functions in the body, with vitamin B12 and vitamin C it helps the body to break down, use, and create new proteins, helps to form red blood cells and prevents anemia and also helps to produce DNA, the building block of the human body. Rich sources of folate include Spinach, Dark leafy greens, Asparagus, Turnip, Beets, Mustard greens, Brussels sprouts, Lima beans, Soybeans, Beef liver, Brewer’s yeast, Root vegetables, Whole grains, Wheat germ, Kidney beans, White beans, Lima beans, Mung bean, Salmon, Orange juice, Avocado and Milk. Folic acid is of critical importance periconceptionally in protecting the foetus from neural tube and other congenital defects. Folate deficiency is a global problem affecting millions of people in both developed and developing countries. Inadequate intake of folic acid during pregnancy increases the risks of preterm delivery, low birth weight, foetal growth retardation, and developmental neural tube defects (NTDs). In addition, low folate intake and elevated homocysteine levels are associated with the occurrence of neurodegenerative disorders, cardiovascular diseases, and a range of cancers, while adequate intake of both folates and folic acid in diets decreases total homocysteine levels in plasma. Folic acid fortification and supplementation approaches have been adopted in many parts of the world, largely due to folate bioavailability issues and also safety concerns regarding excess folate exposure in vulnerable population groups (e.g., children). Thus, alternative approaches to supply folates through biofortification of staple food crops may provide a sustainable means to provide bioavailable folates to people in many parts of the world. Most staple food crops, are poor sources of dietary folates, however, legumes have traditionally been considered as a good dietary source of folates. This chapter describes the genetic variability of folate content in legumes and the potential for genetic biofortification in these crops.
Keywords: Biofortification; Chickpea; Field Pea; Folates; Lentils; Tetrahydrofolate
Abbreviations: NTD: Neural Tube Defects; THF : Tetra Hydro Folate; RDA: The Recommended Dietary Allowance; MA: Microbiological Assay; LC: Liquid Chromatography; LC-FD: LC with Fluorescence Detection; FTHF : Formyl Tetra Hydro Folate ; FA: Folic Acid; MTHF: Methy Tetra Hydro Folate