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What Is Folate: A Complete Guide

Posted by on March 26, 2020 in Stuff with 0 Comments

There's been a lot of buzz lately about the benefits of b9 vitamins, the role folate and folic acid play in the health of your body, and what the difference is between folate and folic acid. The question most people want to know is is folate folic acid? The answer is a bit complex, and we are going to dive into just what this helpful vitamin can do, what it’s made of, and how much you should take. Most people take B9 as a supplement, but it can be food in some very common foods as well. While adding a lot of these foods to your diet will indeed add folate to your body, taking a supplement is the best way to insure you are getting the amount you need for the full benefits to kick in. I have researched this subject extensively and compiled my information in the following article titled what is folate: a complete guide.

You are probably consuming some natural folate on a daily basis. Food sources include leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, and legumes such as kidney beans and lentils. The problem is that this isn’t a totally reliable way to ensure that you’re getting all the folate you need, since the nutrient can break down if those foods are chopped or cooked. That’s why supplementation is a good idea. A diet lacking foods rich in folate or folic acid can lead to a folate deficiency. Folate deficiency can also occur in people who have conditions, such as celiac disease, that prevent the small intestine from absorbing nutrients from foods (malabsorption syndromes). Lots of supplements opt for folic acid, a synthetic form of folate, because it’s highly stable and better at entering your intestinal cells than natural folate. But for many women, folic acid is actually still more difficult to absorb—which means that even if you’re supplementing, it may be harder to get the full benefits.

So, what is folate? Folate is the naturally occurring form of vitamin B9. Its name is derived from the Latin word “folium,” which means leaf. In fact, leafy vegetables are among the best dietary sources of folate. Folate is the natural form of this B9 vitamin that is present directly in many foods you consume already. Folate is a generic name for a group of related compounds with similar nutritional properties. The active form of vitamin B9 is a folate known as levomefolic acid or 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF). In your digestive system, most dietary folate is converted into 5-MTHF before entering your bloodstream.

Now we know what folate is, but what is folic acid, and what's the difference? Folic acid the synthetic, man-made version of folate. It’s used in supplements and added to processed food products, such as flour and breakfast cereals. People often use the two interchangeably as they are both forms of vitamin B9 but in fact there is an important difference.  Unfortunately, a large percentage of women (up to 60%) have a defect in their MTHFR gene that doesn’t allow them to properly convert synthetic folic acid into active methylfolate. As such women taking folic acid may not be absorbing their B vitamins as expected. For this reason it’s preferable to take folate either from whole food sources or supplements that contain the natural form of active folate instead of synthesized folic acid whenever possible.

Vitamin B9 is an essential nutrient that’s mainly present as folate and folic acid. It’s commonly taken in supplement form and even added to processed food. The recommended daily amount of folate for adults is 400 micrograms (mcg). Adult women who are planning pregnancy or could become pregnant should be advised to get 400 to 800 mcg of folic acid a day. If you are trying to conceive or if you are already pregnant, don’t underestimate the importance of folate for your fertility and pregnancy wellness.


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