Folate is the naturally occurring form of vitamin B9.
The word “folium,” which means “leaf” in Latin, is where the name comes from. In fact, green leafy vegetables are excellent folate food choices.
The term “folate” refers to a family of compounds that all share the same nutritional benefits.
Levomefolic acid, also known as 5-methyltetrahydrofolate, is the active form of vitamin B9 (5-MTHF).
Most of the dietary folate you take in is converted into 5-MTHF in your digestive system.
Water-soluble vitamin B9 is found in many foods as folate. Folic acid is added to food and sold as a supplement; this form is actually better absorbed than that from food sources—85% vs. 5%.
The synthetic form of the B vitamin folate is called folic acid. DNA and other genetic material require folate in their production. Prenatal care relies heavily on it, and rightfully so.
Folate is a type of vitamin B that can be found in some foods naturally. Vitamin supplements and fortified foods typically contain folic acid, which is the synthetic form of folate.
This article discusses folic acid’s roles, some dietary sources, recommended intakes, and the consequences of a deficiency.
What’s the big deal, anyway?
There is some evidence that folic acid can lower the likelihood of a baby being born prematurely.
The body relies on folic acid for a variety of reasons.
For instance, it promotes the production of robust new RBCs in the blood. Oxygen is transported throughout the body by red blood cells. A lack of these can cause anaemia, which manifests itself in weakness, fatigue, and a bluish-white complexion.
Folate deficiency anaemia occurs when the body does not have enough folate.
Folate is required for cell division and is crucial for the synthesis and repair of DNA and other genetic material.
Pregnant women should pay special attention to getting enough folate. Spina bifida and anencephaly are just two of the neural tube defects that can result from a foetal lack of folate.
Folic acid is added to enriched bread, pasta, rice, cereals, and other grain products in the United States by mandate of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)Trusted Source due to its significance in human health.
The incidence of neural tube defects in newborns has declined since its implementation.
Several potential benefits of folic acid supplements are discussed below.
Abnormalities of the neural tube
When taken before and during pregnancy, folic acid supplements can reduce the risk of neural tube defects.
Preterm birth, heart defects, and cleft palate may all be averted as a result.
According to a reliable source from the Office of Dietary Supplements, all women who are trying to conceive should take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid daily, either as a supplement or in fortified foods.
Low folate levels have been linked to an increased risk of depression. It is possible that antidepressant medication would work better if folic acid supplements were taken.
Prenatal folic acid supplementation has been linked to a lower risk of autism in offspring by some studies. The study results are inconclusive, so more investigation into folic acid’s potential benefits is warranted.
Inflammatory joint disease, also known as rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis patients who are prescribed methotrexate may benefit from folic acid.
Although methotrexate is effective, it has the potential to deplete the body of folate, which can lead to gastrointestinal problems in some patients. The use of folic acid supplements has been shown to decrease the likelihood of these negative effects by about 79 percent.
When should folic acid be taken?
Folate deficiency is uncommon in the United States because most people consume sufficient amounts of folate in their diets.
However, folic acid is strongly recommended for all pregnant and potentially pregnant women by government guidelines.
This is due to the fact that folic acid plays a critical role in the development of a foetus in its earliest stages. Since the spinal cord develops early in embryonic development, a lack of folate can cause neural tube defects.
To what extent is it recommended that you take
Women who are pregnant or may become pregnant should take 400-800 mcg of folic acid daily, according to the Office on Women’s Health Trusted Source, while those with spina bifida or a family history of neural tube irregularities should take 4,000 mcg. Breastfeeding mothers should aim for a daily dose of about 500 mcg.
Supplemental folic acid and fortified foods are more readily absorbed by the body than folate found in food sources.
Dietary folate equivalents (DFEs) from food or vitamins are recommended by the Office of Dietary Supplements Trusted Source.
Recommendation Age Range: 0 to 6 Months
From 7-12 months at 65 mcg DFE
DFE 80 mcg 1- 3 years
150 mcg DFE, Ages 4-8
DFE 9-13 200 mcg
300 mcg Between the ages of 14 and 18, DFE DFE 400 mcg / 19 yrs Four Hundred Micrograms of DFE
Folic acid may not be appropriate for everyone because of the possibility of drug interactions.
If you have any of the following conditions, it is recommended that you consult a doctor before beginning folic acid supplementation:
diabetes mellitus type 2 epilepsy
chronic inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus or celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease
It’s also possible that people undergoing kidney dialysis should avoid folic acid.
Fortified grains, cereals, flours, and breads all contain folic acid in addition to dietary supplements. It’s also frequently included in B-complex supplements.
Folate is a natural component of many foods. The most dependable ones are:
- beef liver
- Brussels sprouts
- vegetables greens
- green peas
- Beans, kidney
- Tomato juice from a can
- Dusky crab
- Juice of orange
- crunchy, roasted peanuts
- citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruits
- a fried egg and a banana
- Low levels of the B vitamin folate
- Lack of adequate folate in the body causes a condition known as deficiency. This condition can cause megaloblastic anaemia.
Folate deficiency during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of foetal malformations.
Folate deficiency can manifest itself in a number of ways.
- difficulties focusing
- irregular heartbeats
- changes in skin, hair, or fingernail colour mouth and tongue sores
- irritation, head pain, chest pain, and difficulty breathing
The following categories of people are more likely to have a folate deficiency:
- people with alcohol use disorder
- pregnant women
- people with alcohol use disorder
- people of childbearing age
- MTHFR polymorphic individuals
Folic acid’s negative effects
An excessive amount of folic acid has no harmful effects. Rarely, some people may experience stomach distress.
There is no need for worry if someone takes more folate than they need. Because of its solubility in water, folic acid excretion is an automatic process.
Folic acid, or the synthetic form of the B vitamin folate, is crucial to healthy bodily function. However, those at risk of deficiency, including women who may become pregnant, may benefit from taking folic acid supplements in addition to eating a healthy diet.
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However, there are some significant distinctions between folic acid and folate despite their similarities. Both are associated with vitamin B-9, which is essential for normal foetal development, and for the formation of healthy red blood cells.
The term “folate” is used to describe all of the different types of vitamin B-9. Folic acid, dihydrofolate (DHF), tetrahydrofolate (THF), and others fall under this category. New cells in the body are made with the help of B vitamins.
Folic acid is an artificial analogue of natural folate. Since it is not found in nature, many food manufacturers artificially add it. Folic acid is typically fortified into foods like bread, pasta, rice, and breakfast cereals.
Numerous food options exist that contain folate or folic acid.
Effects-wise, folate and folic acid are virtually interchangeable. Both aid in the production of new cells, like red blood cells, in the body.
Vitamin B9, or folic acid, enters the body and begins functioning in the blood after passing through the digestive tract. The liver is the next organ to receive folate for further processing. Urine is the body’s primary means of excreting any excess through the urinary tract.
An excess of any fat-soluble vitamin can be harmful. Vitamins A and D are fat-soluble and can accumulate in the body over time.
However, since it dissolves in water, it is extremely difficult to consume too much folate. This means that the body is able to efficiently eliminate waste products. Excess folate in the blood does not pose any health risks. Reliable Sourcing.
We can see the differences between folic acid and folate in the following table:
readily absorbed by the body aids in preventing some birth irregularities is found naturally in a variety of foods, minimising the need for supplements
Vitamin B-12 deficiency can interact with certain medications, but this can be difficult to detect because of the medication’s potential side effects.
Rarely, you might experience these unwanted side effects:
pain in the abdomen loss of appetite nausea
Natural folic acid sources are safe to consume without worry of negative effects.
There is no natural form of folic acid. To supplement your diet, you can find it in pill or liquid form, and it can also be found in a few different foods.
This B-9 vitamin supplement, folic acid, includes all of its forms:
the B vitamin folic acid
THF \s5 \s10-methylenetetrahydrofolate \s5-methyltetrahydrofolate
Folate is found in many different foods in their natural forms.
Foods are fortified with folic acid instead of folate by manufacturers. This is because heat and light can degrade folate, rendering it useless in culinary applications. A more stable form of folic acid.
Here we’ll go over where you can get your fill of folic acid and folate.
Nutritional Supplements: Folic Acid
Numerous fortified foods and supplements offer supplemental folic acid. Folic acid can be obtained from a variety of sources.
corn masa flour, rice, and pasta with added vitamins and minerals
cereals with added nutrients
bread with added vitamins
Folic acid supplements typically range from 400 micrograms to 1,000 micrograms (mcg). It is estimated that the average American adult consumes 140 mcg Trusted Source of folic acid daily from fortified foods.
Folate The folate RDA for adults is 400 mcg Trusted Source per day, while the RDA for pregnant women is 600 mcg Trusted Source per day.
Numerous foods already contain folic acid. Folate levels in food vary widely. The five foods with the highest folate content, as reported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH)Reliable Source, are:
Tofu, beef liver, spinach, black-eyed peas, and fortified breakfast cereal with asparagus
You can get your folate fix from foods like dark green leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts, seafood, eggs, dairy products, poultry, orange juice, and grains. For optimal health, it’s important to eat a varied diet that includes plenty of folate-rich foods.
Folate can be found in meat and dairy products, but these foods also may contain unhealthy levels of fat. Opt for leaner cuts of meat and reduced-fat dairy products, or supplement your diet with nuts and beans for protein and folate.
Which is safest to take before and throughout pregnancy?
When trying to conceive and in the first few weeks of pregnancy, it’s crucial for women to take folic acid or folate. Low folate levels in the blood are associated with an increased risk of having an abnormal baby.
In particular, neural tube defects might be more likely to occur in cases where blood folate levels are low. The brain and spinal cord are impacted by these innate anomalies. The two most typical instances of this are:
Anencephaly, a defect in brain and skull development, spina bifida, a disorder in which the spine does not form normally and which can cause nerve damage.
The CDC Reliable Source advises that women start taking a folic acid supplement one month before trying to conceive.
Folic acid in the amount of 400 mcg per day from a reputable source, in addition to eating a wide variety of folate-rich foods, is what’s recommended.
Folic acid is hard to be lacking in because it is present in so many common foods.
Folate deficiency anaemia is brought on by a lack of folate in the blood. When this condition takes hold, the body produces abnormally large red blood cells. The most frequently encountered symptoms are:
negative levels of energy
the sensation of prickling heat or cold in the extremities ulcers
issues with short-term and long-term memory
Homocysteine levels can be kept in check with the help of folic acid and the other B vitamins. Increased danger of cardiovascular illness and stroke is associated with elevated homocysteine levels. Stroke risk can be reduced by eating a diet rich in folate or taking supplemental folate. Reliable Sourcing.
Moreover, celiac disease and other gastrointestinal disorders can prevent the body from absorbing nutrients. It’s possible that this could lead to an increase in the risk of folate deficiency. There is some evidence that alcoholism raises this risk.
Folate is essential for proper bodily functioning. Dietary folate intake is adequate for both children and adults. Get the most out of your diet by picking foods from a wide range of categories.
Take a folic acid supplement if you are pregnant, or if you are trying to get pregnant. A normal pregnancy and birth are more likely to occur if this is done.
Folic acid is always included in prenatal vitamins, and individual folic acid supplements are available for purchase in health stores, pharmacies, and online.