Folate vs folic acid

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There can be confusion around the difference between folic acid and folate as they are often used interchangeably.

Role of folate and folic acid

The NHS recommends that all women trying for a baby and are pregnant take 400 micrograms of folic acid per day. This is vital to help prevent neural tube defects in the infant. Folic acid is also critical during preconception as it is needed during cell growth and proliferation, which occur during follicular and embryonic development.

Studies have also demonstrated that folic acid is beneficial in men and there is a positive correlation between folate levels and sperm health. Low levels of folate have been linked to poor sperm DNA stability and damage.

Difference between folic acid and folate

There can be confusion around the difference between folic acid and folate as they are often used interchangeably.

Folic acid is the synthetic form that is generally used in supplements and fortified foods such as rice, bread and breakfast cereals.

Folate is the natural, active form found in foods such as leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits and beans.

Before folic acid can be utilised by the body it must be converted to folate. The conversion of folic acid to folate is dependent on an enzyme called MTHFR (methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase). It is estimated that 40-60% of the population have a mutation in their gene which lowers the amount of MTHFR, meaning they have a reduced capacity to transform folic acid into the active form.

These individuals may struggle to raise their folate levels to the recommend levels using a standard folic acid supplement.

Why we chose Quatrefolic

As it is not possible for everyone to test for this mutation, we chose to use a superior, active form of folate in our supplements, Quatrefolic.

Quatrefolic is the active form of folate, readily available for transport and use in the human body and tissues. Quatrefolic doesn’t require conversation by the enzyme MTHFR and therefore, can effectively raise folate levels in all individuals.

Quatrefolic is found in all our supplements containing folate including Vitafem, Vitamen, Inositol and folate and our Vital Essence range.

Further reading

  • Fertility Tests Explained


    Fertility Tests Explained

  • IVF After 40


    IVF After 40

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