According to Chris Kresser L. Ac there is a big difference and the two are commonly used interchangeably. Many medical professionals would even argue the two were the same. So what’s the difference? Folate, or vitamin B9, is a general term for a group of water soluble B-vitamins. It occurs naturally in foods while folic acid is the synthetic form of folate. The chemical synthesis of folic acid was non- existent until 1943 and became a mandatory food fortification in 1998 due to the overwhelming evidence of neural tube defects in newborns. Unfortunately, researchers have found that the excessive consumption of folic acid in fortified foods may be directly related to the increase in cancer rates. Folate intake is essential for good health and is well known for its role in preventing neural tube defects in newborns. Women planning on becoming pregnant should consume 800-1200 mcg per day for several months before conceiving. Of course, folate from food in its natural state is best. Some excellent sources come from calf and chicken liver, romaine lettuce, spinach, asparagus, turnip greens, mustard greens, parsley, collard green broccoli, cauliflower, beets and lentils. Chris recommends women planning on becoming pregnant should consume between 800 and 1200 mcg of folate per day for several months before conceiving. Supplementing folate (not folic acid) may be required depending on dietary intake. Of course, it is always is important to take high quality supplements. Refer to Chris’s website on brands he recommends as well a consulting your healthcare practitioner.
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