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Folic Acid Or Folate – What’s The Difference?

Written by Wellness Club on October 11, 2011 – 12:13 pm -

Folic Acid Or Folate – What’s The Difference?


All these supplements and substances with similar and sometimes scary-sounding names sure can be confusing! How is a person to keep them all straight?

Easy! Just ask us!

Our article in the last issue of HealthBeat News, The Vitamin Deficiency That Can Cause Dementia showed just how confusing this can be for those without a strong background in human biochemistry and organic chemistry.

We had several letters come in, but this one from Bill was the most succinct:

concerning the “senile dementia” article:  isn’t there a difference between folic acid and folate?    bill


Here’s an equally succinct answer for Bill and all the others who were wondering:

Folic acid is what our bodies use to make folate.

To expand on this a little bit, folic acid (also know by it’s International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) chemical name (2S)-2-[(4-{[(2-amino-4-hydroxypteridin-6-yl)methyl]amino}phenyl)formamido]pentanedioic acid – don’t bother trying to pronounce it!)  is considered to be by itself biologically inactive until our liver works it’s magic and converts it to what is commonly called folate but is actually several slightly different substances that are each used in different ways by our bodies: tetrahydrofolate, dihydrofolic acid, and l-methyltetrahydrofolate are three examples.

Many common prescription drugs can interfere with this conversion or with our bodies ability to effectively use folate: trimethoprim, pyrimethamine, and methotrexate; the sulfa drugs (sulfonamides) and the anticonvulsant drug Valproic acid are some examples of drugs that can cause folate deficiencies.

Certain fairly rare genetic abnormalities can result in folate deficiencies, usually due to differences in the ability of the liver to convert folic acid to folate. Dr. Myatt makes a supplement called L-MethylFolate available for people who need to get their folate directly instead of by converting folic acid. L-MethylFolate can be found on Dr. Myatt’s special-order Health Concierge Products page.

Most folks do just fine obtaining their optimal amounts of folic acid from supplements such as Hi-B-12/Foliplex.

So, there you have it – a quick story about a spooky-sounding chemical that is essential to our continued good health!


Nurse Mark

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