Focus On: Folate

Find out what folate is and how it functions within the body.

WHAT IT IS: Folate is a type of water-soluble B vitamin (vitamin B9) that is often found in food naturally, and in vitamin-fortified foods. It is sometimes called folic acid or folacin.

[ Benefits ]

Folate supports red blood cell production as well as regeneration of other cells, such as skin. It prevents homocysteine (arterial plaque) build-up in the arteries and increases blood circulation as well as osteoporosis-related fractures, and has been shown to prevent age-related memory impairment. For pregnant women, folate protects against birth defects as the fetus develops in the neural tube. Anemia, depression, insomnia, and mental fatigue are common symptoms of a folate deficiency.

A folate deficiency can occur in individuals who excessively use alcohol; those who are pregnant or breastfeeding; or those who have liver disease, are anemic, on kidney dialysis, or take anticonvulsant or barbiturate medications.

[ Warnings ]

Folate intake from food is not considered dangerous. Since folate is water soluble, excess amounts are typically passed through urine. However, exceeding 1,000 mcg per day of folate can trigger symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency. These symptoms include: anemia, fatigue, depression, gastrointestinal disturbances, and neurological impairment.

[ Natural Sources ]

Dietary sources of folate include asparagus, cereals, fruit, leafy vegetables, legumes, mushrooms, okra, organ meat (such as calf liver), orange juice, and tomato juice.

[ Folate/Folic Acid Supplement Picks ]

Life Extension Optimized Folate, $28, 1000 mcg, 100 capsules, lef.org // Country Life Folic Acid, $13, 800 mcg, 100 capsules, countrylifevitamins.com // Source Naturals Folic Acid, $8, 800 mcg, 200 capsules, sourcenaturals.com // Twinlab Folic Acid Caps, $10, 800 mcg, 100 capsules, twinlab.com

[ Recommended Dosage ]

Age (years)      Male & Female           Pregnancy        Lactation

1-3                               150                           n/a                    n/a

4-8                               200                           n/a                    n/a

9-13                             300                           n/a                    n/a

14-18                           400                          600                  500

19+                              400                           600                  500