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General Questions about Folate
What is Folate?
Given the confusion that exists over the use of the terms folic acid and folate when describing or marketing vitamin B9 supplements, we would like to begin by clarifying the difference between folate and folic acid as described in the scientific literature.
Folic acid and folate are used interchangeably as they are both forms of water-soluble vitamin B9, but there is an important difference. According to the American Pregnancy Association, folic acid is the synthesized version that is commonly used in processed foods and supplements; it is man-made and does not occur naturally in foods. Folate, on the other hand, is natural B9 that is found in whole foods such as leafy vegetables, eggs, and citrus fruits. Folate not only helps the body create new cells but is directly involved in the creation of DNA and RNA. In addition, folate also supports healthy fetal development and cardiovascular health.
What are some risk factors for a folate deficiency?
A lack of folate in the diet is the biggest risk factor for folate deficiency. Unfortunately, today’s over-reliance on refined and processed foods can provide a challenge to optimal folate intake. Pregnant women must be especially mindful of their folate intake given that higher amounts are needed to support cell replication and healthy fetal development. Other individuals that are at risk for a folate deficiency include smokers, alcoholics and those with gastrointestinal disorders such as malabsorption syndromes, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Some genetic diseases may also impair folate absorption and activity.
Are there any naturally-occurring food sources of folate?
Folate is naturally-occurring in a wide variety of plant-based foods including leafy green vegetables, asparagus, avocados, bananas, mushrooms, whole grains, beans, and legumes.
How does folate differ from folic acid?
Folate occurs naturally in food and in the human body. Folic acid, on the other hand, is synthetic and created in a lab. Folic acid is the form that is typically found in most dietary supplements and fortified foods. It may be important to note that folic acid is not biologically active and must be converted into folate in order to be used by the body.
What is the recommended dietary allowance for Folate?
The 100% daily value (%DV) for vitamin B9 (folate) for individuals 18 years of age and older is 400 mcg DFE. This goes up to 600 mcg DFE per day during pregnancy/breastfeeding. As with any supplement, please talk to your healthcare provider prior to supplementation to ensure you are following the dosing schedule that is right for your particular health needs.
Is there an established upper toxicity limit for Folate?
The Upper Tolerable Limit (UL), established by the Food and Nutrition Bard (FNB) of the Institute of Medicine, is considered to be the highest amount you can take of a nutrient without theoretical risk. The UL for folic acid in adults is set at 1,000 mcg per day. It is important to note that this UL applies to synthetic folic acid and not to folate from food. The consumption of folate from food is not associated with adverse effects.
Can folate supplements be taken with OTC or prescription medications?
If you are taking or planning to take an OTC or prescription medication, please consult a licensed pharmacist or your healthcare provider before beginning supplementation to minimize risk of side effects associated with potential supplement-drug interactions.
- Still have questions?
- For general information about Folate, check out the resources below—
- Folate Fact Sheet for Consumers — Office of Dietary Supplements
- Folate Fact Sheet for Consumers (PDF) — Office of Dietary Supplements
- Folate — Linus Pauling Institute
- Folate — Harvard School of Public Health
- Folate and Folic Acid in Pregnancy — American Pregnancy Association
- Folate — An Overview
- For specific guidance on the suitability of Folate to support your particular health goals, please talk to your healthcare provider.
Questions about Folate Gold
What is the source of folate in Folate Gold?
Folate Gold provides a gentle and nourishing form of plant-based folate from lemon peel and other ingredients in the organic food blend. The full list of organic foods can be found under the ‘Organic Food Blend’ in the supplement facts panel (on the label) and on the product page on our website. Folate Gold is not synthetic folic acid fermented, grown or cultured in yeast, or a blend of organic foods fortified with synthetic folic acid and marketed as “whole-food” or “food-based” folate.
What form of folate does Folate Gold provide? Is it methylated?
Folic acid and folate are used interchangeably as they are both forms of vitamin B9, but there is an important difference. According to the American Pregnancy Association, folic acid is the synthesized version that is commonly used in processed foods and supplements; it is man-made and does not occur naturally in foods. Folate, on the other hand, can be found in whole foods such as leafy vegetables, eggs, and citrus fruits.
The vitamin B9 in our product is from organic food sources (lemon peel extract, spinach powder) and, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements, food folates are typically in the tetrahydrofolate form; they are not structurally similar to the methyl folate forms (5-MTHF) available in the market, which are generally also from synthetic folic acid. Consistent with our guiding principle to ‘do no harm’ and in the interest of your health and safety, we ask that you discuss your concerns regarding the suitability of our product for your particular health needs with a healthcare provider prior to supplementation.
Folate Gold provides 800 mcg DFE per serving. Is the dose too high? Is there risk of toxicity associated with supplementing with greater than 100% DV of folate?
We completely understand, value, and respect your concerns regarding supplement safety because they are aligned with our own guiding principle to "do no harm." The Upper Tolerable Limit (UL), established by the Food and Nutrition Bard (FNB) of the Institute of Medicine, for folic acid in adults is set at 1,000 mcg per day. It is important to note that this UL applies to synthetic folic acid and not to folate from food. The consumption of folate from food is not associated with adverse effects. Furthermore, the bioavailability of folate from food sources is estimated to be about 50%. After accounting for relative bioavailability, 800 mcg DFE of folate is equivalent to only 480 mcg of folic acid. These factors support the 800 mcg DFE folate dosage included in our Folate Gold product. Regardless, as a matter of principle and in the interest of your health and safety, we encourage you to discuss any concerns you may have in regard to supplementing your nutrient intake with a licensed healthcare provider prior to supplementation.
Can individuals with a known or suspected MTHFR gene mutation take Folate Gold to get the recommended daily value of folate?
There is some controversy with regard to the form of B9 that is best suited for individuals with a known or suspected MTHFR gene variant. According to the American Pregnancy Association, some women have a defect in their MTHFR gene that doesn’t allow them to properly convert synthetic folic acid into active methyl folate. As such, women taking folic acid may not be absorbing their B vitamins as expected. For this reason, it is preferable to take folate either from whole food sources (e.g. green leafy vegetables) or supplements that contain the natural form of active folate instead of synthesized folic acid whenever possible.
However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most common variant in the MTHFR gene is MTHFR C677T and these are the 5 most important things to known about this variant —
- People with MTHFR C677T variants can process all types of folate, including folic acid.
- Folic acid is the only type of folate shown to help prevent neural tube defects.
- MTHFR gene variants are common.
- All women of reproductive age who could become pregnant should consume 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid each day, including those with an MTHFR C677T variant
- Sometimes a woman may still have a baby with a neural tube defect even though she consumed the recommended 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid; the defect may be unrelated to the MTHFR gene variant or folate status.
Supplements containing forms of folate other than folic acid (such as 5-MTHF) should not be confused with the natural food folate found in fruits and vegetables. The effectiveness of these [5-MTHF] supplements in preventing neural tube defects has not been studied. For more information on the difference between folic acid and folate, please click here.
The form of B9 in our product is not the methylated form. While it can help bridge nutritional gaps in the diet, support good health, and help minimize the risk of folate deficiency when taken in conjunction with a diet that includes folate-rich foods, we regret we do not have any information on and cannot make any recommendations regarding the use of our product by individuals with a known or suspected MTHFR gene variant. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the folate form in our products, we ask that you discuss those concerns with your healthcare provider prior to supplementation so you can make an informed purchasing decision on the form of folate that will best support your particular health goals.
What is the best time of day to take Folate Gold? Should it be taken with food?
Folate is a water-soluble vitamin that can generally be taken anytime, even on an empty stomach. However, as a matter of principle and in the interest of your health and safety, we encourage you to consult your healthcare provider prior to supplementation to determine what use, if any, is best for your individual needs.
How does NutriGold ensure the purity of the ingredients used in its Folate Gold products?
At NutriGold, we go above and beyond what is recommended or required under current GMPs to independently verify that the raw materials used in our products as well as the finished products themselves meet industry-defining quality and purity standards. Depending on the complexity of the testing involved, including determining what needs to be tested, what methods are fit-for-purpose, and which lab is most qualified to perform the testing, we sometimes have results from as many as 4 or 5 different independent, ISO-certified labs for each product. We take these results from third-party labs and summarize them in lot-specific Certificates of Analysis that are freely available in the spirit of authentic transparency on the product pages on our website so consumers can make informed purchasing decisions.
What assurance can you provide that the amount of Folate listed on the label is actually in the product?
All of our products are verified by independent third-party labs to meet identity, purity, and potency label claims. We take these results from third-party labs and summarize them in lot-specific Certificates of Analysis (C of A) that are freely available in the spirit of authentic transparency on the product pages on our website so consumers can make informed purchasing decisions. The C of A provides assurance that the claims made on the label accurately reflect the contents of the product inside the bottle. If interested, more information on our our commitment to independent, third party quality testing can be found at this link - https://nutrigold.com/pages/accountability
What is a pullulan capsule? What is it made of?
Pullulan is a vegetable-derived, water-soluble polysaccharide produced through a natural fermentation process. Pullulan capsules are considered more natural than HPMC (cellulose) capsules because they are naturally derived from fermented tapioca. Unlike cellulose capsules, which are considered semi-synthetic and not permitted in certified organic products, pullulan is included in the USDA’s National Organic Program list of accepted ingredients for organic products.
Can I break apart the capsule and add the contents to liquid/food to consume?
All of our products are formulated to be taken as capsules and our purity and potency claims are based on the product being taken as recommended. We generally do not recommend breaking apart the capsules because it can introduce contaminants or otherwise compromise product potency and effectiveness.
Is Folate Gold suitable for children (under 18 years of age)?
Folate Gold is formulated for individuals over 18 years. Because children are considered a vulnerable population, we regret we cannot make any recommendations regarding the use of our products by or for children under the age of 18. We ask that you talk to your pediatrician or family practitioner about whether or not Folate Gold is suitable and safe for your child’s particular healthcare needs prior to supplementation.