Folate vs. Folic Acid
Most of the times we hear the terms folate and folic acid used interchangeably, so we assume that they are pretty similar things. The reality couldn’t be further from the truth. For a start, folate is a natural substance found in green, leafy vegetables. Folic acid on the other hand is a synthetic substance, quite similar to folate, but it’s not the same. We have been taking folic acid systematically since 1998, when it was introduced as mandatory food fortification. Being synthetic, it can be easily and cheaply produced in a lab, which has made it the standard choice of vitamin producers. But this doesn’t mean that this is the best choice for us.
The difference between folate and folic acid
You now know why folate is better than folic acid – it just works better in our bodies. Wherever possible, you should aim to include folate-rich foods in your diet. This is the most natural way to take in folate.
But in pregnancy or while trying to conceive, this is not enough. In this case, a supplement with folate is ideal. Many supplements contain folate from natural food sources, which is always preferable from synthetic folate. Another form of folate that is very, very easily assimilated in the body (even easier than natural folate) is methyl-folate. Taking a supplement with methyl-folate is also an excellent option. If you have an MTHFR mutation (do check this article about more info about MTHFR and fertility), you MUST opt for methyl-folate supplement and avoid supplements or food fortified with folic acid or folate.