The terms "folate" and "folic acid" represent two different forms of the same vitamin. Folic acid is the synthetic (man-made) form that is used in vitamin supplements and fortified foods. Folate is the form of the B vitamin found naturally in foods. Many times the general term "folate" is used to describe both forms of the vitamin.
US foods had no synthetic folate until after 1987 when folate supplementation was allowed - in low doses - in ubiquitous foods because deficiencies of this B-vitamin had been linked to spina bifida and anencephaly in children born to women with poor diets.
The body needs folate to manufacture DHFR (DiHydro-Folate Reductase) to produce the nucleic acids essential for life. Folate can be used by bacteria to form the nucleic acids needed for their reproductive cycles and survival. Most bacteria can produce their own folate, and we believe some intracellular forms can use the host's supply as a source; so it's best to avoid extra folic acid, outside of healthy eating.
People eating a healthy diet don't need synthetic folic acid. Excellent natural sources of folic acid include leafy green vegetables, romaine lettuce, turnip greens, mustard greens, parsley, collard greens, broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, beets, and lentils, dried beans and peas, and fruits (like citrus fruits and juices). Keep in mind that many 'processed' foods are supplemented with folic acid.
It’s fine to eat foods naturally high in folate but it’s recommended to avoid folic acid supplements. Avoid the following sources of folic acid supplements:
Folic acid supplements
B vitamin multivitamin
Limit the following foods supplemented with folic acid to reasonable quantities:
White flour (use whole grain)
Products made with white flour (including breads, baked goods, cereals)
CIR does not display advertising or receive sponsorship from any commercial interests. Nothing contained in this site is or should be considered, or used as a substitute for, medical advice, diagnosis or treatment by your physician.