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4 Key Folate Benefits That You Should Know

Why is Folate Important

folate-benefitsFolate of B9 is a water-soluble vitamin and is part of the B-vitamin family. It is also known as folic acid or folacin. Folate occurs naturally in many foods, especially leafy green vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and fortified foods like cereal. You can also get folate from supplements and fortified foods. Check the nutrition label to see how much folate is in a food product.

Folate plays an essential role in maintaining health. Folate is vital for several reasons. It helps the body to make new cells, is needed for proper cell growth and development, and it plays a role in helping the neural tube close properly during early development. Folate also helps to prevent anemia. Getting enough folate can also help to reduce the risk of congenital disabilities in the baby’s brain and spine.

How is folic acid different from folate?

Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate. It is found in supplements and fortified foods. Fortified means that nutrients have been added to the food. Folic acid is different from folate because it is not found naturally in food. The body needs folate, but it can’t use folic acid directly. The body must convert folic acid into folate before it can be used.

How Much Folate Do You Need?

You can get folate from food and supplements. The recommended daily amount (RDA) of folate for adults is 400 micrograms (mcg). Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding need 600 mcg of folate per day. It would be best if you talked to your doctor about how much folate you need.

Life Stage Recommended Amount of Folate

– Birth to 6 months 65 micrograms/day

– 7 to 12 months 80 micrograms/day

– 1 to 3 years 150 micrograms/day

– 4 to 8 years 200 micrograms/day

– 9 to 13 years 300 microgram/day

– 13 and above 400 microgram/day

Folate Deficiency

folate-deficiencyFolate deficiency is relatively rare in developed countries like the United States. However, certain groups of people are at greater risk for folate deficiency, including:

– Alcoholics

– People with malabsorption disorders

– Smokers

– Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding

– People with certain chronic illnesses, such as kidney disease

– Older adults

– People with malabsorption disorders such as celiac disease or Crohn’s disease

– People who take certain medications such as methotrexate or phenytoin (Dilantin)

You should also limit how much alcohol you drink because it can interfere with how folate works in the body.

The symptoms of folate deficiency can include:


– weakness

– anemia


– headaches

heart palpitations

– irritability

– difficulty concentrating

– pale skin

– sore tongue

Folate deficiency can lead to anemia, a condition without enough red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body. Folate is vital for red blood cell formation. Anemia can cause fatigue, shortness of breath, and other symptoms. Pregnant women who do not get enough folate may have a higher risk of having a baby with a neural tube defect.

Talk to your holistic healthcare provider if you experience any of these symptoms. You may be deficient in folate and need a supplement. A simple blood test can check your folate levels.

Folate Benefits

folate-benefitsFolate helps the body make healthy new cells. New cell formation is crucial during periods of rapid cell growth, such as infancy and adolescence. Folate also helps prevent changes to DNA that may lead to cancer and has other health benefits.

Folate Benefits and Brain Health

Folate is essential for brain health. Low folate levels have been linked to depression. Folate helps the body make serotonin, a chemical that plays a role in mood. Depression is a common mental disorder that can cause a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest in activities. Folate is vital for brain health; getting enough folate can help protect against depression.

A folate deficiency may also lead to cognitive problems and dementia. One study found that older adults with low folate levels were more likely to have problems with thinking and memory. The recommended daily intake is 400 micrograms to maintain brain health. 

Folate Benefits and Heart Health

Folate may help prevent heart disease. One study found that people with high folate levels were less likely to have heart disease than those with low folate levels. Another study found that folate may help lower homocysteine levels. Homocysteine is an amino acid that can damage blood vessels and lead to heart disease.

Getting enough folate may also help lower blood pressure. Additionally, folate has been shown to reduce the risk of stroke. 

Folate Benefits and Cancer Prevention

Folate is important for preventing cancer. It helps the body make healthy new cells and helps prevent changes to DNA that may lead to cancer. Folate helps repair damaged DNA. DNA is the blueprint for our cells. When DNA is damaged, it can lead to cancer. Folate helps repair damaged DNA and may help prevent cancer.

One study found that folate may help protect against colorectal cancer. Another study found that folate may help protect against pancreatic cancer. Folate also may also benefit breast cancer patients. 

Folate Benefits and Fertility

Folate is important for fertility. It helps the body make healthy new cells. Folate also helps prevent changes to DNA that may lead to birth defects. Women who are planning to get pregnant should take a folate supplement. Folate can help prevent birth defects of the brain and spine. The recommended daily intake of folate for pregnant women is 400 micrograms.


About Author

Picture of  Ava Bell-Taylor, M.D

Ava Bell-Taylor, M.D

Ava Bell-Taylor, M.D., originally from Atlanta, Georgia, received her Bachelor of Science degree from Spelman College. She later received her medical degree from Morehouse School of Medicine. She completed her Family Practice training at Floyd Medical Center in Rome, Georgia and her psychiatry residency at Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. Bell-Taylor has extensive post-graduate medical training in Functional, Integrative, and Anti-Aging Medicine. She is certified in Functional Medicine. Ava Bell-Taylor, M.D. is a holistic doctor with a focus on functional and integrative medicine. Combining functional medicine with her knowledge of conventional medicine has enabled Dr. Bell-Taylor to help many patients suffering from depression, anxiety, insomnia, attention-deficient, dementia, and eating disorders. Dr. Bell-Taylor specializes in functional medicine with a special emphasis on how hormone disorders, environmental factors, lifestyle choices, and nutritional deficiencies contribute to brain dysfunction, like depression, attention deficiency, anxiety, insomnia, dementia, and other chronic medical illnesses. Dr. Ava Bell- Taylor is the co-author with her husband, Eldred B, Taylor, M.D, of two must-read books, Are Your Hormone Making You Sick? and The Stress Connection: How Adrenal Gland Dysfunction Effects Your Health.

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