Folate and folic acid are forms of a water-soluble B vitamin. Folate occurs naturally in food, and folic acid is the synthetic form of this vitamin.
Supporting research & information
Folic acid is used for preventing and treating low blood levels of folate (folate deficiency), as well as its complications, including “tired blood” (anemia) and the inability of the bowel to absorb nutrients properly. Folic acid is also used for other conditions commonly associated with folate deficiency, including ulcerative colitis, liver disease, alcoholism, and kidney dialysis.
Women who are pregnant or might become pregnant take folic acid to prevent miscarriage and “neural tube defects,” birth defects such as spina bifida that occur when the fetus’s spine and back do not close during development.
Some people use folic acid to prevent colon cancer or cervical cancer. It is also used to prevent heart disease and stroke, as well as to reduce blood levels of a chemical called homocysteine. High homocysteine levels might be a risk for heart disease.
Folic acid is used for memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease, age-related hearing loss, preventing the eye disease age-related macular degeneration (AMD), reducing signs of aging, weak bones (osteoporosis), jumpy legs (restless leg syndrome), sleep problems, depression, nerve pain, muscle pain, AIDS, a skin disease called vitiligo, and an inherited disease called Fragile-X syndrome. It is also used for reducing harmful side effects of treatment with the medications lometrexol and methotrexate.
Vitamin B9, or folate, is a member of the B-complex vitamin group. Like all B-vitamins, folate plays vital roles in cellular metabolism and energy production.
More specifically, folate aids in DNA and RNA synthesis, which is especially important during periods of rapid growth (e.g., pregnancy and puberty). Folate also helps control homocysteine levels, which, if too high, can lead to a number of chronic conditions including cancer, heart disease, depression, and diabetes.
Vitamin B9, also known as folate, is a water-soluble essential B vitamin (R).
The name folate comes from the Latin word folium meaning ‘leaf’ since it is found in many leafy plants. The best dietary sources of folate are green leafy vegetables, citrus fruit juices, and legumes (R,R2).
Folates occur in many chemical forms. They are naturally found in food and the body in the form of metabolically active tetrahydrofolate derivatives (e.g., 5-methyltetrahydrofolate) (R).
In contrast, folic acid, the synthetic form of Vitamin B9, has no physiological activity unless converted into folates. This primarily occurs in the liver, where folic acid is converted to tetrahydrofolate (THF) using the enzyme dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) (R).
5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF), the main circulating form of folate, has many essential roles in the body including nucleic acid and amino acid biosynthesis, amino acid conversions, DNA/RNA replication and methylation, as well as functioning as a cofactor in certain biological reactions (R).
People with MTHFR polymorphisms require more folate than others.
5) Folate Enhances Brain Function
Folate is critical for normal brain development and function (R).
Low blood folate levels are correlated with symptoms of cognitive declinein elderly, epileptic, and psychiatric populations (R,R2).
They are also associated with degeneration of the cerebral cortex, the region of the brain that coordinates learning and memory (R).
This is likely due to increased homocysteine levels (folate is a cofactor in the reaction that helps convert homocysteine to methionine), which are toxic to neurons and linked to neurodegenerative conditions including Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and epileptic seizures (R,R2).
In animal models of bacterial meningitis (swelling of the lining covering the brain and spinal cord), increasing folate levels were found to preserve memory function and prevent oxidative damage to the frontal cortex (R).
Short-term folic supplementation also significantly improved IQ scores, short term memory, and motor skills in older adults with mild cognitive impairment (R).
7) Folate is a Natural Antidepressant
Depressed patients have lower folate levels (R).
Folate is involved in the synthesis of serotonin and dopamine. An imbalance in these neurotransmitters can lead to the development of depression and anxiety disorders (R).
Folic acid has a stimulatory effect on serotonergic receptors in the brain and improves selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) responsivity in depressive patients (R,R2,R3).
Increasing folate levels in people with eating disorders led to significant improvements in depressive symptoms (R).
Lower risk of depression
Low folate status has been linked to an increased risk of depression and poor response to antidepressant treatment.
Folic acid deficiency has been linked to depression in people with epilepsy, and one study suggested that supplementation of the nutrient could help treat low mood.
Folic acid supplementation has not been suggested as a treatment in itself for depression, but it may be helpful in improving response to antidepressants such as fluoxetine, especially in women.
Dietary levels of folate have not been associated with any adverse effects.
This ingredient is found in the following Eudeamon products