Folate, also known as Folacin or Vitamin B9, is a water soluble B vitamin and is naturally present in foods. Folic Acid is an oxidized form of vitamin which is used in the dietary supplements. Its main function is to act as a coenzyme or co-substrate in the synthesis of nucleic acids and in the metabolism of amino acids. Folate plays an important role in the body of women as it makes new cells and maintains it. It prevents about 75% of the defects at birth of the spine and brain.
Both Folate and Folic Acid are forms of B vitamin. Folate is naturally found in foods whereas Folic Acid is found in vitamin supplements. Folic Acid is used to enrich and fortify some processed foods and is a synthetic form of Folate.
On an average, infants should consume about 65 micrograms, children should consume about 150-200 mcg in a day, teens should have an adequate intake of about 300 mcg and adults should consume about400 mcg of Folate, daily. However pregnant women require an increased amount of consumption which is about 500 mcg per day.
Deficiency of Folate is rare. It can be due to a combination associated with poor diet, alcoholism and mal-absorptive disorders. Deficiency of Folate leads to fatigue, poor growth, soreness and shallow ulcers in the tongue. It may also result in the changes in the skin, hair or fingernail pigmentation and elevated blood concentrations.
The good and natural sources of Folate are dried beans, peas, lentils, spinach, beets, broccoli, corn, peas, tomatoes, orange juice, and banana along with enriched grain products like pasta, cereals and bread. Whole grain cereals are also good sources of Folate. Peanut, butter and sunflower seeds are rich sources of Folate.