Folate vs. Folic Acid: What’s the Difference?


Folate and folic acid are different. Although they are both varieties of vitamin B9, they are not the same thing.Untitled 2.pages

Even medical professionals sometimes offer confusing information about folate and folic acid.

Why does it matter? Folate and folic acid affect your body differently.

We’ll describe the differences so that you can determine which, if either, is necessary for your nutritional needs.

Quick Navigation

What is Vitamin B9?
Folate Deficiency Can Cause Health Problems
Folate Is the Natural Form of Vitamin B9
Folic Acid Is the Manufactured Type of Vitamin B9
Unmetabolized Folic Acid Could Be Bad for Your Health
What is the Best Way to Consume Enough Vitamin B9?
Bottom Line

Folate vs. Folic Acid Infographic

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What is Vitamin B9?

Vitamin B9 is found naturally in certain foods, added to other foods and found in dietary supplements (1).
The vitamin is vital for cell development and the synthesis of DNA and RNA.

It is necessary for chemical reactions that occur when the body metabolizes certain amino acids.
The body stores about 10 to 30 mg of folate at a time. Approximately 50% is stored in the liver. The other half is stored in the blood and tissue.

Although the blood plasma folate levels are often used to determine an individual’s plasma levels, they may reflect the influence from dietary folate instead of stored folate (1).

The adult daily recommended intake of dietary folate equivalents (DFEs) is 400mcg (1).
Most people in the United States have adequate folate levels.

The average American adult takes in about 450 to 650 mcg of DFEs (2).

The average American child consumes about 385 to 675 mcg of DFEs (3).

Why talk about the vitamin in terms of folate “equivalents?.”
The answer is because vitamin B9 is not always consumed in the same form: Folic acid is different than folate.

Certain groups have been found to be at risk of having inadequate vitamin B9 levels. These include women in their childbearing years (2).

KEY POINT: Vitamin B9 is an essential nutrient that is responsible for certain metabolic processes in the body.
While many people may have sufficient levels of the vitamin, women of childbearing age may be at risk of having a deficiency.

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