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Folate or Folic Acid? Which One Does Your Body Really Need

by phlox pharma 07 Dec 2023


Nutrition plays a pivotal role in maintaining overall health and well-being. Among the various essential nutrients, folate, a B-vitamin, holds significant importance in the body's functioning. However, confusion often arises between folate and folic acid. Are they the same, or do they differ in some way? In this blog, we will unravel the mystery behind folate and folic acid, exploring their differences and understanding their roles in promoting health.

Folate: Nature's Gift to Health:

Folate, also known as vitamin B9, is a natural form of the nutrient found in various foods. It is essential for several bodily functions, including DNA synthesis, red blood cell formation, and proper neural tube development during pregnancy. Natural sources of folate include green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, legumes, and nuts. Consuming folate-rich foods is crucial for a healthy diet and overall well-being.

Folic Acid: The Synthetic Counterpart:

On the other hand, folic acid is the synthetic form of folate, commonly used in dietary supplements and fortified foods. While folic acid serves the same purpose as folate, it is not found naturally in foods. Fortification of certain foods with folic acid is a public health strategy aimed at preventing neural tube defects in newborns and supporting overall health. However, excessive intake of folic acid through supplements can lead to concerns, making it important to strike a balance.

Key Differences:

1.Natural vs. Synthetic: Folate is the natural form of vitamin B9 found in food, whereas folic acid is a synthetic form used in supplements and fortified foods.

2.Absorption: Folate from natural food sources is absorbed more efficiently by the body compared to folic acid. Some individuals, especially those with specific genetic variations, may have difficulty converting folic acid into its active form, leading to potential health issues.

3.Health Implications: Adequate folate intake is essential, especially during pregnancy, as it helps prevent birth defects. While folic acid supplements are recommended for pregnant women, excessive intake can mask vitamin B12 deficiency, which can have serious health consequences.


Folate and folic acid, both play vital roles in supporting human health. While folate from natural sources is preferred for its superior absorption and overall health benefits, folic acid supplements are necessary in specific cases, such as during pregnancy, to prevent neural tube defects.

Understanding the differences between folate and folic acid empowers individuals to make informed dietary choices and ensures that they get the right balance of this essential B vitamin. So, whether you choose to enrich your diet with folate-rich foods or rely on folic acid supplements, remember that a balanced approach is the key to reaping the maximum benefits of this important nutrient.


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