If you’re looking for the best folate supplements to buy this year, then you’ve come to the right place.
You can also get more info by jumping to our Folate Supplements Guide.
Top 10 Folate Supplements
|#1||Life Extension Optimized Folate||More Info|
|#2||Solgar – Folate||More Info|
|#3||Thorne Research – 5-MTHF Folate Supplement||More Info|
|#4||Jarrow Formulas Methyl Folate||More Info|
|#5||Doctor’s Best Best Fully Active Folate||More Info|
|#6||Pure Encapsulations – B12 Folate||More Info|
|#7||Pink Stork Folate||More Info|
|#8||Designs for Health – Super Liquid Folate with B12||More Info|
|#9||Country Life Folate Organic||More Info|
|#10||NOW Foods Methyl Folate||More Info|
While folate deficiency is currently uncommon in the United States, there are some groups that are still at high risk of having inadequate levels, especially women of childbearing age, pregnant women, black women and seniors aged 50 and higher. Folate is essential to cell growth and reproduction, as it is a primary element in making nucleic acid.
Despite its importance in everyday performance, the debate over the recommended daily allowances, recommended nutrient levels and most effective sources for folate and folic acid supplements has sustained fluctuating scientific and historical trends.
In the 1970s, advancements in technology made it possible for vitamins to become fortified with folic acid, so discussions on the possible value of adding folic acid to flours began. This advancement also sparked the argument between nutritionists and producers of supplements, since the recommended daily allowances were weighed against specific, nutrient-deficient risk groups and how this crucial vitamin could best benefit the general population of healthy adults.
Because of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s 1998 recommendation that certain food product manufacturers begin adding folic acid to packaged items such as breads, rice, flour and many other grain products, many food sources are now enriched with folic acid. The estimated result of the FDA’s program is that folic acid intakes have increased by approximately 190 micrograms (mcg) per day, which is almost twice the rate of the projected 100 mcg/day at the start of this effort.
The guidelines in this article are based on recommendations provided by scientific research, publications, common or popular use and expert opinions. This is not intended to replace treatment or diagnosis from a qualified healthcare professional. Always consult your physician before beginning treatment.
What Is Folate?
Folate, also known as vitamin B-9, is a water-soluble B vitamin which exists naturally in food sources. It can be fortified into certain enhanced or packaged food products, or it may be available as a supplement. Water-soluble vitamins are easily absorbed and once the body has reached its sufficient levels, any excess is naturally flushed out by the kidneys.
There are eight B vitamins that are necessary for normal biological function. This group is comprised of thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12 and folate. There is a total of thirteen vitamins that are crucial to basic biological function, including the eight B vitamins. These include vitamins A, C, D, E and K.
Natural food sources of folate include beef liver, kidney beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach, green peas, seafood and avocado. Examples of fortified food sources of folate or folic acid include breakfast cereals, packaged bread and orange juice.
The term “Folate” may be used to include the vitamin form which occurs naturally in food or it may also include the term “Folic acid”, which is the form typically found in dietary supplements and fortified foods.
Benefits of Folate Supplements
All thirteen of the necessary vitamins as identified by the FDA guidelines are required to promote basic primary biological functions, primarily growth, digestion and a healthy nervous system. Since folate is required to synthesize nucleic acid as DNA and RNA, cell growth rates are not optimal without this key nutrient.
Therefore, there are many uses and benefits to folate supplement treatment to ensure that sufficient levels are achieved.
Folate deficiency in pregnant women has been linked to birth defects such as spina bifida, congenital heart disease, urinary defects and cleft lip or palate. A deficiency in may also cause an anemic condition known as megaloblastic anemia, which causes red blood cells to under produce or become malformed during development. Adequate levels of folate have been shown to decrease the risk of miscarriage.
Individuals diagnosed with depression have shown low levels of folate. Deficient levels have also been linked to a lowered response to antidepressant medication. It is believed that folate assists in production of the anti-depressive hormones such as serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine by preventing an excessive production of homocysteine, as this chemical blocks these key hormones from reaching the brain. Adequate levels of folate can help to improve sleep, appetite and mood.
Folic acid supplements may be used to prevent or treat conditions associated with aging, such as Alzheimer’s disease, memory loss, hearing loss, osteoporosis, muscle pain, restless leg syndrome, and eye disease such as macular degeneration.
Above-normal levels of homocysteine have been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Folic acid supplements decrease levels of homocysteine, so researchers have suggested that folic acid supplements may be used in the prevention of heart disease and stroke.
Due to folate’s role in synthesizing DNA and RNA, research has suggested that folate supplementation may provide protection from cancer by preventing the overgrowth of cells which may become malignant.
Inadequate folate intake has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. There is evidence that folate deficiency may also be linked to cervical, ovarian, pancreatic, lung, stomach, or colorectal cancers.
Other conditions that are associated with folate deficiency and may be treated with supplements are liver disease, ulcerative colitis, and kidney function.
Are There Any Side Effects?
Regular, sufficient intake of folate is safe for most healthy adults. Side effects are usually mild and are mostly associated with high levels (1000 mcg or more).
Hidden Vitamin B-12 Deficiency
High levels of folic acid (1000 mcg for most adults) have demonstrated a possible concealment of vitamin B-12 deficiency. Untreated, this hidden deficiency may cause damage to the nerves, including possible paralysis. It is recommended that folate supplements be taken in combination with B-12 supplements.
While research indicates that folate may prevent certain types of cancer from forming in the body, a high intake of folic acid supplements may cause rapid increase in cell growth in certain types of cancer.
Mild to Moderate Symptoms may include the following:
- Low Blood Pressure
- Reduced Blood Sugar
- Increased Seizure Risk
- Weight changes
- Hair Loss
- Changes in Urine
- Lung Spasms
- Sleep disorders
How to Take Folate Supplements
Folic acid is widely available as a supplement in many multivitamins, with the most common dosage supplied at 400 mcg.
The Recommended Daily Allowances (RDAs) for folate for most healthy adults, aged 19 years or more, is 400 micrograms (mcg) of dietary folate equivalents. The maximum recommended daily intake is 1000 mcg.
Women of childbearing age (13 years or more) should follow recommended daily allowance guidelines of 400 mcg/day to reduce risk of unhealthy pregnancy and birth defects.
Pregnant women should take a supplement containing 400 – 800 mcg. Postpartum women should take 500 mcg/day, especially when breastfeeding. Women of childbearing age should follow recommended daily allowance guidelines to reduce risk of unhealthy pregnancy and birth defects.
Recommended Treatment Doses
The following treatment doses are cited by The Mayo Clinic:
- Anemia – 1-5 milligrams daily until recovery
- Depression – 0.5-3 milligrams for 3-52 weeks
- Diabetes – 5 milligrams for 1-6 months
- High Blood Pressure – 5-10 milligrams for 2-16 weeks
- Vein Clots – 5 milligrams daily during pregnancy
- Gum Disease – Apply directly to the gum during pregnancy
- Vitiligo – 5 milligrams taken twice daily
- Heart Disease – 0.8-40 milligrams daily for 3-88 months
- Stroke – 0.5-40 milligrams daily for 6-88 months
What to Look for in a Good Folate Supplement
FDA Guidelines allow supplements to list ingredients using the synonyms folate, folacin or folic acid. Supplement manufacturers should also follow guidelines to list recommended dosage, ingredients and allergen information.
Look for RDA of 400 mcg for most adults or %DV (Daily Value) of 100%.
Take once per day. Tablets are usually the most convenient form for storage and ease in swallowing.
The dosage and quality of ingredients should be sufficient for the cost. Multivitamins containing folic acid are often the best value for the cost.
Read the labels carefully and look for any ingredients or additives that may promote allergic reactions. These filler ingredients may also affect the value and potency of the vitamin.
Other keywords to look for on supplement labels are: