Folate is essential and Folic Acid is commonly available

Folate or Folic Acid:

     Folate is the form of the vitamin found in food and is more bioactive.  Folic acid is the form that is commonly available as a supplement and in fortified foods however it requires adequate supplies of vitamin B12  in order to be converted into a usable form. A genetic difference may exist in some individuals that prevent the body from being able to convert the inactive folic acid form into folate, the methylated bioactive form of the vitamin. [More about methylation.]

     Deficiency of folate can cause megaloblastic / macrocytic anemia which is characterized by red blood cells that are over-sized and ineffective.  Anemia symptoms include being short of breath and feeling tired and weak.  The symptoms are due to a shortage of normal red blood cells and reduced ability to transport oxygen with each breath.

     Folate is needed for DNA synthesis and for DNA methylation which may be important for preventing cancerous changes from occurring in the DNA.

     Lack of folate may increase heart disease risks due to less breakdown of homocysteine.

     Folate is important during pregnancy for fetal development.  Spina bifida and cleft palate are birth defects that may be caused by folate deficiency.

Food Sources of Folate, the bioactive natural form, include: most beans and peanuts, black eyed peas, green peas, grains, asparagus, most dark green vegetables, orange juice, citrus fruits. Fortified cereal and rice are good sources of folic acid, the supplemental form.


Reference for more information:

An Evidence-based Approach to Vitamins and Minerals:  Health Benefits and Intake Recommendations, 2nd Ed., by J. Higdon & V. Drake, (Thieme, Stuttgart / New York, 2012)

See a health care provider for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Folate is essential and Folic Acid is commonly available by