Folate is a B vitamin that is water soluble and present naturally in several different foods, as well as added to other in order to supplement dietary needs. Folate is the generic term for folates in food and dietary supplements. Folic acid is a form of folate that is the completely oxidized monoglutamate form of folate that is typically used in dietary supplements and fortified foods. In other words, folic acid is the synthetic form of folate.
Folate is typically found in beans, nuts, peas, and dark green leafy vegetables. There are also fruits that are rich in folate including strawberries, melons, bananas, oranges, and lemons. This compound is a vital ingredient in fortified foods (e.g., cereals, breads, pastas) and prenatal vitamins. Individuals who have diets that lack foods containing folate can ultimately lead to a folate deficiency. Folate deficiency can also occur in individuals who have medical conditions such as celiac disease or malabsorption syndromes. The recommended daily intake of folate for adults is approximately 400 mcg. Women who are planning to become pregnant should consume at least 400 to 800 mcg of folate on a daily basis.
Folate is crucial in the formation of red blood cells and maintaining healthy cell function and growth. Folate is a critical vitamin in the early stages of pregnancy in order to reduce the occurrence of birth defects related to the spine and brain. Folate also aids in the following conditions:
- Cancer – Evidence suggests that maintaining appropriate levels of folate may reduce the likelihood of developing cancers.
- Depression – Research has indicated that folate may be helpful in the treatment of depression and lessening the symptoms that go along with it.
- Birth Defects – Researchers have indicated that folate supplementation can prevent birth defects; specifically birth defects related to the neural tube. It is advised by medical professionals that women who are pregnant take a daily prenatal vitamin including folate in order to ensure that their folate levels are adequate.
- Heart Disease and Stroke – Folate is able to control high levels of homocysteine in the blood by working in coordination with vitamins B6 and B12. If homocysteine is elevated in the blood, it may increase the risk of heart and blood vessel diseases (i.e., cardiovascular disease.
- Folic Acid Deficiency – This issue is not a problem in many countries due to the high level of fortified foods available on the market. If an individual does have this deficiency, they may be treated with oral supplements.
For many individuals, it is best to consume folate through fortified foods. Folate supplements may help individuals who have conditions that interfere with absorption or individuals with poor diets. Folate is typically safe if used at appropriate doses. Some side effects of oral administration of folate supplments can include:
- Bad taste in mouth
- Loss of appetite
- Sleep disturbance
Individuals who may be allergic to folate could potentially develop skin rash, redness, itching, and difficulty breathing.
note: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.