You may have heard about folic acid, especially if when you were expecting a child, but what is folic acid exactly and do you need a supplement to get your daily dose? Our informative article will demystify folate for you. We’ll show you the ten best folic acid supplement products on the market today.
Folate, folic acid, and L-Methylfolate are aspects of the same nutritional component. Understanding the difference will help you decide which supplement is the best choice for your particular health needs.
Folate is a water-soluble B-9 vitamin found naturally in citrus fruit, bananas, mushrooms beans, eggs, avocados, beef liver, nuts, and leafy green vegetables. Your body needs folate to create genetic material like DNA.
Ingesting too little folate over time can cause megaloblastic anemia, which is a blood disorder that causes fatigue, irritability, heart palpitations and headache. Folate deficiency can also create open sores inside your mouth and change the color of your fingernails, skin, or hair.
Women who don’t get enough folate have a higher risk of having babies with neural tube defects like spina bifida and giving birth to a premature or stillborn baby. Men and women with low levels of folate in the blood are also more likely to be depressed. They might not respond as well to antidepressants as those with adequate levels of folate.
Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate found in fortified foods and dietary supplements. Its molecular structure is nearly identical to folate. Since 1998, the FDA ruled that grain products such as bread, flour, pasta, bakery items, cookies, crackers, and breakfast cereal, should be fortified with folic acid. To see whether a food product has been enriched with folate, check for folic acid in the ingredient list.
Folic acid as a dietary supplement has been used to successfully treat low folate levels and complications associated with low folate levels including anemia, inadequate nutrient absorption, ulcerative colitis, liver disease, alcoholism, and kidney disease.
Women, even those who are not currently pregnant, should take folic acid to reduce the chance of their babies being born with neural tube defects or stillborn. Folic acid has also been shown to prevent colon and cervical cancer, heart disease and stroke.
Folic acid has also been used to treat memory and hearing loss, Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, restless leg syndrome, vitiligo, and Fragile-X syndrome. Taking folic acid as a supplement has also been proven to reduced side effects for those taking lometrexol and methotrexate as part of treatments for other illnesses.
We know you are concerned about your health and want the very best folic acid supplement you can get. Since your health is nothing to play with, we were very selective when choosing the best folic acid supplement products for our list.
Our list takes into account:
The National Institute of Health recommends that everyone over the age of 14 get at least 400 mcg of folic acid, folate, or a combination of the two daily. Therefore, every one of the folic acid supplements we recommend, have at least 400 mcg in a single dose. Too much folic acid in the body can have serious adverse effects on your liver, kidneys and complicate vitamin B-12 deficiency diagnosis. Too much folate has also been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer.
Folic acid is often found in B vitamin supplements or prenatal multi-vitamins. Pregnant women should not exceed 600 mcg of folate daily. Women who had higher levels of folate in their bodies from taking large doses of folic acid have twice as much chance of having a child with autism. On the other hand, women who had appropriate levels of folate have a reduced risk of their child being born with autism.
Folate is best absorbed and utilized by the body when it is ingested as part of a healthy diet. One-half cup of avocado, for instance, will give you 15% of your daily recommended intake of folate and a 3 ounce serving of beef liver will provide you with 50% of the daily recommended folate intake.
Folic acid is absorbed by the body less efficiently than folate. Furthermore, a large section of the population has the MTHFR gene mutation which impacts how a person metabolizes folate and folic acid. Therefore, supplements with the active form of folic acid, such as 5-MTHF or L-Methylfolate, would be a better dietary additive than traditional folic acid.
For these reasons, we’ve included natural folate, folic acid and L-Methylfolate boosters in our list of the best folic acid supplements.
We considered what kind of capsule the supplement is delivered in. Most vitamins come in gelatin capsules. Gelatin is made from boiling tendons, skin, ligaments and bones of cows, pigs or horses. Certain groups of people have dietary restrictions that prohibit the ingestion of one or more of these animals. Therefore, a vegetarian capsule option is an excellent alternative which in no way detracts from the beneficial components of the supplement.
Tablets are another form you may find your folic acid supplement delivered. These are nearly always gelatin free and often contain no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.
The United States Pharmacopeial Convention guarantees quality through its Promoting the Quality of Medicines (PQM) program. Supplements that have passed the USP inspection will have the USP seal on the label.
Other countries have different but still rigorous quality control process which is prominently displayed when obtained. We’ve included whether a brand has the USP quality control seal of approval or other quality control certification.
The number of pills in each container is also important. You certainly don’t want to run out in less than a month.
With these standards in mind, here is our pick for the top 9 best folic acid supplements.
Our top choice for folic acid supplementation is the Doctor’s Best Fully Active Folate with Quatrefolic. It comes in a 400 mcg single capsule dosage and provides the active form of folate as 5-methyltetrahydrofolate.
The capsules are gluten-free, non-GMO, and vegan. Vitamin C is added for just a little bit more health benefit. It features Quatrefolic as the glucosamine salt. Each container has 90 capsules for a full 3-month supply.
Nature Made Folic Acid comes in a tiny tablet rather than capsule form. Each of the 250 tablets has 400 mcg of folic acid while free from preservatives, colorant, artificial flavors, yeast, starch, and gluten. All of Nature Made’s dietary supplements are verified by USP for quality and purity. With a 250 tablet quantity, you’ll be set to go for over eight months.
Linden’s Folic Acid also comes in a tablet form with the recommended dosage of 400 mcg in each tablet. Each foil-fresh pouch contains 250 tablets providing over eight months of supplement.
The bag is resealable and light-proof for the best preservation without chemical additives. The tablets are free from sugar, gluten, soy, dairy and appropriate for both vegans and vegetarians. All of Linden’s supplements have been certified for Quality Management Systems in the U.K. Our rating:
Puritan’s Pride Folic Acid comes in 400 mcg dose tablet form and therefore is appropriate for vegans and vegetarians.
The tablets contain no sodium, fish, yeast, wheat, gluten, soy, lactose, milk, starch, sugar, preservatives, or artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners. Puritan’s Pride states that their products are inspected up to 15 times throughout the manufacturing process for quality. Each bottle comes with 250 tablets for at least an eight-month supply.
Nature’s Best makes folic acid tablets that are pure grade as tested by British Pharmacopeia (BP). Each bottle comes with 180 400 mcg tablets for six months of dietary supplements. The tablets are suitable for vegetarians and free from shellfish, gluten, wheat, yeast, soy, nuts, and dairy.
Jamieson has a folic acid at 1,000 mcg with no artificial colors for flavors added. The tablets also contain no gluten, lactose, sugar or starch and are suitable for vegetarians. This Canadian company provides a 360 Pure Promise on all its products and is TRU-ID Certified.
Another 5-Methyltetrahydrofolic Acid Glucosamine Salt Quatrefolic capsule is made by Jarrow Formulas. The 2-month supply of 60 capsules is vegan and vegetarian-friendly. They are free from tree nuts, peanuts, shellfish, fish, eggs, dairy, soy, gluten, and wheat.
The folic acid tablets by Solgar are KOF-K Kosher certified, gluten and GMO-free. The 250 tablets are also free from wheat, soy, dairy, sugar, yeast, and sodium additives. They are no artificial preservatives, flavors, colors or sweeteners added. Each tablet is infused with 50 mg of calcium as well.
Although not a vegetarian-friendly product, Naturetition Supplements’ Folic Acid comes in the recommended dosage of 400 mcg. The bottle contains 200 gelatin capsules for more than a 6-month supply. The capsules do not have wheat, starch, gluten, sugar, soy, sodium, salt, lactose, milk, corn, yeast, artificial flavor, artificial coloring or preservatives. They do, however, contain rice powder and 1000 mcg of B-12 vitamin.
The folic acid in GNC’s 800 mcg is obtained from whole brown rice powder. The tablets come in a bottle of 100 for more than 3-months of supply. They contain no preservatives, soy, artificial colors, wheat, dairy, artificial flavors, gluten or yeast and are appropriate for vegetarians. As a side note, this product cannot be sold in Canada.
Before you decide on which brand of folic acid supplement to buy, there are a few other items you should take into consideration.
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Although the recommended dosage is 400 mcg daily, there are a few different categories of individuals that may need more or less than that amount. Please consult your doctor or medical professional for the correct dosage for your particular circumstance.
Babies up to 6 months should be getting 65 mcg. Infants 7 to 12 months should have 80 mcg. Children from 1 to 3 years of age should have 150 mcg. Children from 4 to 8 years old should have 200 mcg, and those from 9 to 13 should have 200 mcg.
Infants and children should be getting their folate from natural sources whenever possible. If your doctor prescribes folate, either in the form of folic acid or L-Methylfolate, make sure that the dose you are giving your child does not exceed the daily recommendations.
Pregnant teens and women need more folic acid than the general population and should be getting 600 mcg. After the baby is born, breastfeeding mothers need a little less and should make sure that their intake is at least 500 mcg daily. Studies have shown that teen girls ages 14 to 18, women 19-30 and non-Hispanic black women tend not to get enough folate in their diet even when they are not pregnant, and may need additional supplements.
Those who suffer from alcoholism, celiac disease, IBS (inflammatory bowel disease), or the specific MTHFR gene mutation which could be up to 60% of the United States population, need additional folate supplementation through higher doses of folic acid or l-methyl folate. Contact a health practitioner for appropriate treatments if you fall into one of these categories.
It is crucial to make sure you take the correct amount of folate even though folic acid is water-soluble. Taking too much folic acid can be harmful. One study showed that older adults who received more than 400 mcg of folic acid were quicker to experience cognitive decline than those who didn’t. Folic acid taken in high doses may also increase the risk of colorectal cancer in some people.
Another study has shown that those who have been taking the recommended amounts of folate decrease their cancer risk. However, those who have been taking high doses of folic acid supplements after having cancer increase the progression of the disease, especially if they have a history of colorectal adenomas.
Other studies suggest that high doses of folic acid increase the risk of lung and prostate cancer. If you have had cancer in the past, you should consult your doctor before beginning a regimen of folic acid.
Several studies theorize that taking folic acid in doses of 800-1200 mcg increase the risk of heart attack in those that have heart problems already. Taking folic acid has the potential to worsen narrowed arteries. If you have had angioplasty, you should not take folic acid supplements.
Anemia caused by B12 deficiency is often misdiagnosed when the person is taking folic acid supplements. The supplements mask the underlying cause of the anemia.
Folic acid supplements can also interfere with the effectiveness of certain medications.
If you are taking Methotrexate for cancer treatment, anti-epileptic or anti-seizure medication, or sulfasalazine for ulcerative colitis, make sure to ask your doctor before taking any folate, folic acid or l-methyl folate supplements.
Seizure medications known to interact with folic acid include Fosphenytoin, Phenobarbital, Phenytoin, and Primidone. The effectiveness of Pyrimethamine used to treat parasitic infections is also reduced by taking folic acid.
On the other hand, folate supplements, especially those that are l-methyl folate-based, make antidepressant medication more effective. Applying folic acid directly to the gums has been shown to improve gum problems caused by the drug phenytoin.
Before buying any folate, folic acid, or l-methyl folate supplement, check the expiration date printed on the container. If there is no expiration date, do NOT buy the product. Once the batch has passed the expiration date, you should not continue to take the tablets or capsules.
Folic acid supplements should be stored at room temperature in their original container. Some supplements come in a resealable bag. Make sure the seal is completely closed. Folic acid, folate, and l-methyl folate are susceptible to excess heat and moisture. Do not store them in the bathroom or areas prone to excessive temperatures.
You want to be in tip-top shape and sometimes taking supplements is the best way to maintain your health. Choosing the best folic acid supplement for your particular health needs is vitally important. With the information in this article, you should be able to distinguish whether folate, folic acid or L-Methylfolate is the best form of this compound for you to take.
None of the information contained in this article is meant to diagnose or prevent health problems. It is provided for informational purposes only. Please consult your doctor or health care practitioner before beginning any supplemental vitamin treatment.