The Difference Between Folate & Folic Acid

Although both of these supplements are two different forms of the essential vitamin B9…. Did you know there is actually a difference between folate and folic acid? Most people are unaware that these two vitamins are vastly different, and that they actually take very different paths in your body when digested.

If you’ve been curious about which of these supplements to add to your diet - hopefully this article can help you figure out which is right for you, and if you require one kind more.

Knowing the differences can also help you avoid any negative symptoms from taking the wrong kind.

So what is the difference?

All about Folate

You’ll find folate in many natural whole foods. Take for example, spinach, lettuce, beans, eggs, lemon, oranges and avocados. Folate serves many important functions in the body (such as cell growth and the formation of DNA), and is one of the reasons it’s so important to get your 5 a day.

Having low levels of folate can result in the following:

  • Elevated homocysteine: High homocysteine levels have been associated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Birth defects: Low folate levels in pregnant women have been linked to birth abnormalities, such as neural tube defects.
  • Cancer risk: Poor levels of folate are also linked to increased cancer risk.

It’s also recommended that women planning on becoming pregnant should consume between 800 and 1200 mcg of folate per day for several months before the start of pregnancy, as it prepares the body for the pregnancy.

All About Folic Acid

Folic acid is actually a synthesized version of the same vitamin B9. This version is most often added into processed foods, and is the most common version found in supplements.

Because the digestion of folic acid is slightly more complex, the process of absorbing it into your body can be slower and less efficient. However for people with a deficiency, these supplements can be really useful and necessary.