Folate: What You Should Know

Sources, Benefits, Forms, Dosage 

What is Folate?

Folate is one of the thirteen essential vitamins, and also one of the B vitamins, Vitamin B9. Essential vitamins need to be present in the diet because the human body cannot make the nutrients on its own, or in sufficient amounts to sustain normal and healthy bodily functions.1 Folate is considered an essential vitamin due to its many physiological health benefits, and along with being essential it is also water-soluble. Water-soluble vitamins like the eight B vitamins and Vitamin C dissolve in water and are not stored in the liver or fatty-tissue like with fat-soluble vitamins.1 Since water-soluble vitamins are easily flushed out of the body it is uncommon to develop toxic side effects.

The Benefits of Folate

Folate functions as a coenzyme and is involved in the synthesis of DNA and RNA, making folate critical for the growth, maintenance, and repair of body tissue especially in times of rapid growth and development, such as pregnancy.1,2,3 Folate also functions in amino acid metabolism, a particularly significant reaction being the metabolism of amino acid homocysteine to amino acid methionine.1,2,3 This metabolic conversion delivers folate, as well as the essential amino acid methionine to the body, and without this reaction negative health conditions such as cardiovascular disease is possible.1

Other evidence suggests that folate may also support mental health and provide protection from developing cardiovascular disease, stroke, and certain cancers.2,4

Forms of Folate – Which is best?

There are naturally occurring forms of food folate that are made up of glutamate molecules, and there is also the synthetic form which is known as folic acid.1,2,4 Folic acid is a stable, synthetic form of folate that is most often found in nutrition supplements and used in fortified and enriched foods.1 When metabolizing both folate and folic acid the nutrient undergoes multiple conversions to produce the main form 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-methyl THF) that is delivered to the body, and ultimately is further converted back to the active form tetrahydrofolate (THF).1,2

The bioavailability of folate depends on the form, genetics, and the consumption of certain medications.1 Folic acid and other forms of folate are absorbed differently so it is measured in units of microgram (mcg) dietary folate equivalent (DFE).1,2 1 DFE is equivalent to 0.6 micrograms of folate, and equivalent to 1 microgram of folic acid. Even though folic acid has a higher absorption rate that does not mean it is always the best form. Some individuals lack the enzymes needed to metabolize folic acid and folate leaving it circulating in the blood because it was unable to convert to the 5-methyl TFH form.5,6 This condition is called Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) deficiency and is linked to cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, neurology, and psoriasis.7  For this reason, Healthycell® uses the form 6S-5-methyltetrahydrofolic acid from Quatrafolic® which is the metabolic form of folate that the body uses, and this form can be used by the populations who are unable to metabolize the other forms of folate. The video explains why 5-methyl folate from Quatrafolic® is so important and superior to other forms.

Sources of Folate – From food and nutrition supplements

The folate content can be diminished in cooked meals, as the nutrient level is comprised when exposed to light, high heat, and oxygen.1 Dietary sources rich in folate include green leafy vegetables, orange, avocado, spinach, broccoli, peanuts, and meat.1,8,9 In the United States during 1998 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued that flour and enriched cereal grain products were to be fortified with folic acid, making fortified cereals and grains excellent sources of folate.1,2,5,9

Recommended daily dose of Folate – What physicians advise

The recommended daily dose for nutrients is unique to a person’s age, gender, environment, and other personal factors. Since folate and folic acid are not equally absorbable the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of folate is expressed in micrograms of dietary folate equivalents (DFE).1,2

For infants the RDA has not been established, but adequate intake (AI) level of 65-80 mcg DFE has been set as a guideline for nutritional adequacy. The RDA of folate for healthy adults is 400 mcg DFE for both men and women. The folate recommendation increases for pregnant and nursing women, as folate is required for fetal cellular growth during this period of rapid growth.3 Birth defects are linked to inadequate folate intake of pregnant women, therefore it is highly recommended for women to supplement folate during this period of time.8

Recommended Dietary Allowance
(RDA) Folate
Infants (0 – 12 months) 65 – 80 mcg DFE AI
Children (1 -8 years) 150 – 200 mcg DFE/day
Adolescents (9 – 18 years) 300 – 400 mcg DFE/day
Adults (19+ years) 400 mcg DFE/day
Pregnant and Lactating Women 500 – 600 mcg DFE/day

Table 1: Folate Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) to Meet the Needs of Healthy Individuals8

Certain populations may need to be more mindful when evaluating their folate needs. Individuals using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, and the use of antiepileptic medications may interfere with the benefits and absorption of folate.4 With any particular medication or health condition it is always best to consult with your primary healthcare provider before taking the Healthycell® products or any nutrition supplement

Folate toxicity – Very rare

As folate is a water-soluble vitamin and not stored by the body it does not have any known toxic effects, however, consuming excess amounts of folate hinders the ability to recognize vitamin B12 deficiency.1,8 To avoid this occurrence a maximum level of consumption that may cause an adverse event called a tolerable upper intake level (UL) has been set. The UL of folate consumption for adults, both men and women, has been set to 1,000 mcg.

Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) of Folate
Infants (0 – 12 months)
Children (1 -8 years) 300 – 400 mcg/day
Adolescents (9 – 18 years) 600 – 800 mcg/day
Adults (19+ years) 1000 mcg/day
Pregnant and Lactating Women 800 – 1000 mcg/day

Table 2: Daily Folate Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL)2

Folate deficiency, symptoms, and people at risk

Folate deficiency has been uncommon since the FDA issued the fortification of folate in certain food products.1 If a folate deficiency develops it is typically seen in those with other nutrient deficiencies, and it is difficult to differentiate between folate and Vitamin B12 deficiency.1,2 Other individuals who pose a risk to develop a folate deficiency include those with malabsoption syndromes, alcoholics, smokers, elderly, and even those taking certain medications.1,8

Folate deficiency results in megaloblastic, macrocytic anemia, which is characterized by immature and large red blood cells, which in turn causes the symptoms of fatigue, weakness, irritability, and abnormal heart functions.1,2,4,8

A pregnant woman who is deficient or not consuming sufficient amounts of folate risks birthing offspring with neural tube defects (NTD).1,2,8 Neural tube defects are characterized by an improperly formed neural tube that does not close during embryonic development, and depending on the location of the defect it can be life threatening.5 Spina bifida, a defect in which the spine is incorrectly formed, is the most common neural tube defect.1 The supplementation and fortification of folate and folic acid has reduced the number of neural tube defects.2

Folate in Healthycell® Pro – Only the best form

The form of Folate really matters for certain groups of people. Healthycell® uses the form that benefits everyone, which is 6S-5-methyltetrahydrofolic acid from Quatrafolic®, glucosamine salt, and organic extracts so it can be metabolized and absorbed by those with the condition, Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) deficiency. The dosage of Folate in Healthycell® Pro is 357 mcg in the morning formula and 357 mcg in the evening formula, resulting for a daily dose of 714 mcg satisfying 178% of the Daily Value (%DV). The dose of Folate found in Healthycell® is a little lower with 200 mcg in the morning formula and 200 mcg in the evening formula, for a daily dose of 400 mcg, satisfying 100% of the Daily Value. Nutrition supplement labeling and food labeling guidelines use Reference Daily Intake (RDI) as the standard dosage.

References:

1. McGuire, Michelle, PhD, and Kathy Beerman A., PhD. “Chapter

10 Water-Soluble Vitamins.” Nutritional Sciences: From Fundamentals

to Food. 2nd ed. Australia: Thomson/Wadsworth, 2007. 460-464. Print.

2. “Office of Dietary Supplements – Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet:

Folate.” National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health

and Human Services, n.d. Web. 23 Dec. 2016.

3. Higdon, Jane, Ph.D. “Folate.” Linus Pauling Institute. Oregon State

University, 2000. Web. 06 Jan. 2017.

4. Institute of Medicine. 1998. Dietary Reference Intakes for Thiamin,

Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin,

and Choline. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

doi:https://doi.org/10.17226/6015.

5. Crider, Krista S., Lynn B. Bailey, and Robert J. Berry. “Folic Acid Food

Fortification—Its History, Effect, Concerns, and Future Directions.” Nutrients

3.3 (2011): 370–384. PMC. Web. 2 June 2017.

6. Wright, A., Dainty, J., & Finglas, P. (2007). Folic acid metabolism in human

subjects revisited: Potential implications for proposed mandatory folic acid

fortification in the UK. British Journal of Nutrition, 98(4), 667-675.

doi:10.1017/S0007114507777140

7. Liew, S. C., and E. D. Gupta. “Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase

(MTHFR) C677T Polymorphism: Epidemiology, Metabolism and the

Associated Diseases.” European Journal of Medical Genetics. U.S. National

Library of Medicine, Jan. 2015. Web. 02 June 2017.`

8. Brasaemle, Dawn, PhD. “Folate Lecture.” Rutgers University –Folate. New

New Brunswick. 2015. Lecture.

9. Marcason, Wendy, RDN. “What Are B-Vitamins and Folate?” Eat Right.

Academy ofNutrition and Dietetics, 14 Dec. 2015. Web. 14 Oct. 2016.

Sidebar