Folate vs. Folic acid

Folate is a water-soluble vitamin that the body cannot manufacture itself. We are therefore dependent on an adequate and regular supply.Folate is the natural vitamin found in plants and other foods.Leafy greens, whole grains and nuts are good natural sources of folate.

In contrast, folic acid is the synthetically produced form of the vitamin.

Natural folate and synthetic folic acid need to be in the active form in the bodyL-5-methyltetrahydrofolate(5-MTHF) can be converted to be used by the body. While the body already converts most of the natural folate in the intestine, synthetic folic acid often gets into the bloodstream without first being converted into the active form.


  • Patanwala I et al .: Folic acid handling by the human gut: implications for food fortification and supplementation. At J Clin Nutr. 2014 Aug; 100 (2): 593-9.
  • Greenberg J A et al .: Folic Acid Supplementation and Pregnancy: More Than Just Neural Tube Defect Prevention. Rev Obstet Gynecol. 2011 summer; 4 (2): 52-59.