What is Folate? Folic Acid? What’s the difference? Many people might be wondering this since you see Folate on some of your food labels and Folic Acid on others. The terms are typically used interchangeably. However, there is a difference.
Folate is naturally found in fruits and vegetables. Once consumed it is converted to a biologically active form of Vitamin B9 within the digestive system before it enters the bloodstream.
This is the synthetic form of Folate which can typically be found in supplements and fortified foods like cereal and flour. Unlike Folate, Folic Acid does not convert to Vitamin B9 until it gets to the liver. The liver does not have the proper enzymes necessary to convert Folic Acid to Vitamin B9. So the result ends up being that un-metabolized synthetic Folic Acid ends up in our bloodstream. Take a look at the following studies that have proven this to be true: Study 1, Study 2.
What’s the problem with unmetabolized Folic Acid?
The first and most obvious problem is that your body is not receiving Vitamin B9, which is the purpose of Folate in the first place. Having a deficiency in Vitamin B9 can cause a plethora of problems:
- Poor growth
- Neural Tube Defects in unborn children
- Loss of appetite
- Mental sluggishness
- Poor digestion
- Pale skin
- Swollen tongue
- Premature hair graying
- Developmental problems in infants and young children
Not only that, but high levels of unmetabolized folic acid in the bloodstream have been known to cause serious health issues. One of the biggest of those issues is cancer. Learn more here.
Who Needs Folate?
Well, all of us need Folate. However, some of us need it more than others. These people include pregnant women or women looking to become pregnant, breastfeeding moms, alcoholics, and anyone with liver disease. People that need higher amounts of Folate should look into getting a healthy, all-natural Folate supplement (not Folic Acid!).
Natural Sources of Folate
- Beans, cooked – Black Eyed Peas are the highest with 356 micrograms per cup (89% DV). However, Pinto Beans, Chickpeas, Lima Beans, Black Beans, Navy Beans, and Kidney Beans are also good sources.
- Lentils, cooked – 358 micrograms per cup (90% DV)
- Spinach, raw – 58 micrograms per cup (15% DV)
- Asparagus, cooked – 134 micrograms per ½ cup (34% DV)
- Lettuce, raw – 64 micrograms per cup (16%DV)
- Avocado – 163 micrograms per avocado (41% DV)
- Broccoli, cooked – 84 micrograms per ½ cup chopped (21% DV)
- Mango – 71 micrograms per cup (18% DV)
- Oranges – 47 micrograms per orange (12% DV)
Try this Vegan Black Bean and Brown Rice Burger Recipe for a hearty dinner that is loaded with natural folate. Serve a spinach salad on the side and fresh mango for dessert for a three-course Folate-packed meal!
Whitbread, Daisy. “Top 10 Foods Highest in Vitamin B9 (Folate).”HealthAliciousNess. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 June 2016.
Kresser, Chris. “The Little Known (but Crucial) Difference between Folate and Folic Acid.” Chris Kresser. N.p., 09 Mar. 2012. Web. 10 June 2016
Arnarson, Atli. “Folic Acid vs. Folate – What’s the Difference?” RSS 20. N.p., 30 Oct. 2015. Web. 10 June 2016.