Folate vs. Folic Acid: Which is Better?
If you are acquainted with nutrition, you may have heard references to folate or folic acid. You may even know how these substances benefit our bodies. But, you may also have heard these two substances discussed interchangeably, even though they are technically unique. Let’s look at why this is so.
Folate is the naturally-occurring form of vitamin B9 found in certain fruits and vegetables and legumes. Folic acid, on the other hand, is a man-made compound. Folic acid is typically used to make dietary supplements and (by federal mandate in the U.S.) to fortify foodstuffs, most often bread and cereal products.
So, what are the health benefits of folate/folic acid? It is widely accepted that folate can prevent neural tube defects in developing human embryos and aid in the forming of DNA and RNA. The U.S. Public Health Service officially recommended that women of child-bearing age who may become pregnant should consume at least 400mcg of folate per day for this very reason. Folate also helps regulate homocysteine, an amino acid which can heighten one’s risk for heart disease and stroke if not kept in check. Folate even helps release serotonin, one of the body’s natural antidepressants. In short, folate is a utility player.
Now, you may ask if one form of vitamin B9 is better than the other. Folate is actually the better option because it comes as a natural part of a healthy diet, and because it is a bit more difficult for our bodies to process folic acid than to process natural folate. This results in nonmetabolized folic acid circulating in our blood. Excess folic acid is a concern mainly because U.S. companies are required to fortify many non-whole grain bread and cereal products with B vitamins. Thus, a reasonable portion of fortified breakfast cereal may provide a great deal of folic acid. Eating many fortified products throughout the day adds up.
Many scientists fear that excessive folic acid may increase your odds of developing cancer, especially colon cancer. In order to limit your intake of synthetic folic acid, it’s important to eat a balanced, healthy diet that includes whole grains (they already provide natural folate), leafy green vegetables, and legumes.
Aside from a healthy diet, if you think you might need some supplementary folate, especially if you are or may be pregnant, then Liquid Health Organic Lemon Peel Folic Acid may be for you. Providing an ample 800mcg (200% DV) per 1 ml, this product offers quality organic folate.
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