Folate & Folic Acid: Are They the Same Thing?

WHAT IS FOLATE?

Folate, also known as Vitamin B9, is an important nutrient that we need in our diets daily. Vitamin B9 can be found in leafy greens, broccoli, and dried legumes such as beans and lentils.1

This key vitamin is used by your body to make DNA and other genetic material, produce new cells, and to support nervous and immune system functions.1 

So, it is no surprise that folate is especially important to women during pregnancy. Deficiencies in folate have been linked to increase risk of neural tube defects, as well as certain cancers. Because of the risks associated with folate deficiency, many foods and supplements are fortified with the oxidized, synthetic form of folate, called folic acid. Although the two terms are often used interchangeably, folate and folic acid are not quite the same. 

 

HOW ARE FOLATE & FOLIC ACID DIFFERENT?

Synthetic folic acid is metabolized differently in the body (in the liver vs. the small intestine), requiring the enzyme dihydrofolate reductase, to convert folic acid into the usable folate. Low levels of this enzyme, and high intakes of folic acid may result in unnaturally high levels of un-metabolized folic acid entering systemic circulation. Too much synthetic folic acid may not be effective in preventing neural tube defects, and may actually increase the risk of certain cancers.

Pregnant women (as well as those looking to become pregnant or postpartum) should look to increase their intake of naturally-occurring folate by consuming more dark leafy greens, broccoli, spinach, dried legumes and lentils.

 

How Can You Tell if Your Supplement Includes Naturally Sourced Folate? 

Check the label. If the package doesn’t list foods that are naturally high in folate on the ingredient list, it’s probably not folate in the bottle.

If you’re not sure, contact the manufacturer. 

 

the easy way to get food-sourced folate

 

women's multivitamin, organic supplement, natural vitaminsAdding in an organic, whole food multivitamin supplement, like our Women’s PureFood A to Z or PureFood A to Z powders, is a quick and easy way to ensure you’re getting enough folate and other key nutrients during pregnancy. Our folate is sourced from lemons and dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, and collard. All you need is 2 teaspoons a day in your smoothie, water, or juice.

 

Sources: Powers, H. (2007). Folic acid under scrutiny. <i>British Journal of Nutrition,</i> <i>98</i>(4), 665-666. doi:10.1017/S0007114507795326