Folate is a B-vitamin plays a crucial role in various bodily functions, including cell division and the formation of DNA. But there's a common point of confusion: folic acid vs. folate. Are they the same, or do they serve different purposes in our bodies?
Folate: The Natural Form
Folate is the naturally occurring form of the vitamin, found in a variety of foods, such as leafy greens, lentils, beans, and citrus fruits. It's an essential nutrient that plays a significant role in DNA synthesis, repair, and methylation processes in the body.
Folate's importance extends to pregnancy, as it's crucial for the development of the baby's neural tube. Adequate folate intake before and during pregnancy can help prevent neural tube defects, which are serious congenital disabilities affecting the brain and spinal cord.
Folic Acid: The Synthetic Form
Folic acid, on the other hand, is the synthetic version of folate. It's often used in budget vitamins and fortified foods. Folic acid was introduced as a supplement to combat folate deficiency, which can lead to anemia and other health issues.
The key distinction between folate and folic acid is in how our bodies process them. Folate is naturally occurring and readily absorbed in the body. Folic acid requires conversion into its active form, 5-Methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF), through a multi-step process in the liver. This conversion process can be less efficient or impossible in some individuals, leading to concerns about unmet folate needs.
The MTHFR Gene Factor
The efficiency of the conversion from folic acid to 5-MTHF is influenced by a specific gene known as MTHFR (methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase). Variations in this gene can affect the body's ability to convert folic acid effectively, potentially resulting in low folate levels.
Individuals with certain MTHFR gene variants may benefit more from the direct intake of folate (5-MTHF) rather than folic acid. This can be particularly important during pregnancy, where folate's role in preventing neural tube defects is critical.
A Clear Choice
When we set out to create a line of supplements we committed to never use Folic Acid. By weight, Folate is the most expensive ingredient in our line, but science fully supports folate as the superior form of Vitamin B9. We have formulated with Mangafolate Pro®. You can find this amazing ingredient in any of our wholesome multivitamins.