Folate, also known as vitamin B9, is an important water-soluble vitamin that plays a role in many aspects of health. It aids in cell division and helps make new blood cells by copying and creating DNA.
Studies have shown that a folate deficiency can have serious consequences, including fatigue, painful mouth sores and even an increased risk of birth defects.
Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate that is found in most prenatal vitamins, supplements and fortified food. Folic acid for pregnancy is often recommended by doctors to help ensure that folate needs are met and to protect against pregnancy-related complications.
Is folate the same as folic acid? If not, what’s the difference between folate vs. folic acid?
Folate is naturally found in food sources like fruits, vegetables and legumes. Folic acid, on the other hand, is the synthetic form of folate and can be taken in supplement form or found in fortified items like enriched, cereal, bread and rice.
Some studies have found that folic acid is more absorbed than folate from food sources. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that the folate in food is about 78 percent as bioavailable as folic acid.
Filling your plate with natural folate sources is the best option to meet your daily needs because these foods are also high in other essential nutrients that are important to health.
Folic acid supplements may be useful for preventing deficiency, but it's important to note that incorporating plenty of nutrient-dense folate producing foods can help most people meet their daily folate requirements while also supplying an array of other crucial vitamins and minerals.