Folic acid and folate both are names for a type of B9 vitamin. Folate is a B vitamin that occurs in nature in foods such as green leafy vegetables, beans, and citrus fruits.

Folic acid is human-made (synthetic) folate. It can be found in supplements and added to fortified foods.

Folic acid is water-soluble. Unused amounts of the vitamin leave the body through the urine, that means your body does not collect folic acid. You need to get a daily supply of the vitamin through the foods you consume or through supplements.


Folate has many functions in the body:

  • Helps create DNA, the building block of the human body, which provides genetic information.
  • Operates with vitamin B12 and vitamin C to aid the body break down, use, and create new proteins
  • Helps tissues to grow and cells work
  • Increase the production of red blood cells (helps prevent anemia)

Folate deficiency may cause:

  • Diarrhea
  • Swollen tongue (glossitis)
  • Gray hair
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Peptic ulcer
  • Poor growth

It may also lead to several types of anemia.

Because it’s very hard to get enough folate through food consumption, ladies who were thinking about becoming pregnant need to use folic acid supplements. Taking the healthy amount of folic acid before and during pregnancy time helps prevent neural tube issues, including spina bifida. Receiving higher doses of folic acid before you get pregnant and during the first trimester may decrease your chances of miscarriage.

Folic acid supplements can also be used to manage a lack of folate and may help with some sorts of menstrual problems and even leg ulcers.

Food Sources

Folate appears naturally in the following foods:

  • Citrus fruits and juices
  • Dried beans and peas (legumes)
  • Dark green leafy vegetables

Fortified midpoints that vitamins have been combined to the food. Plenty of the foods are now fortified with folic acid.

Some of these are:

  • Flours
  • Pastas
  • Enriched breads
  • Cereals
  • Rice
  • Cornmeals

Other grain products

There are also numerous pregnancy-specific products on offer for sale that have been fortified with folic acid. Part of these is at levels that meet or surpass the RDA for folate. Women should be cautious about including a high amount of these merchandise in their diets along with their prenatal multivitamin. Getting more is not needed and does not add any extra benefit.

The tolerable upper consumption level for folic acid is 1000 micrograms (mcg) daily. This margin is based on folic acid that originates from supplements and fortified foods. It doesn’t refer to the folate found naturally in many foods.

Side Effects

Folic acid does not induce harm when used at recommended safe levels. Folic acid dissolves in water. This means that it is systematically removed from the body through urine, so excess contents do not build up in the body.

You should not take more than 1000 mcg per day of folic acid. Consuming higher levels of folic acid can hide vitamin B12 deficiency.


The best way to take the daily requirement of essential vitamins is to consume a wide variety of foods. Many people in the United States usually get folic acid in their diet because there is plenty of it in the food supply.

Folic acid can help reduce the risk of specific congenital disabilities, such as spina bifida and anencephaly.

Females who are of childbearing age should receive at least 400 micrograms (mcg) of a folic acid supplement daily in addition to that found in fortified foods.
Pregnant women should get 600 micrograms a day, or 1000 micrograms a day if expecting twins.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamins indicates how much of each vitamin most people should take each day.

The RDA for vitamins may be applied as goals for each person.
How much of each vitamin you require depends on your age and gender. Other factors, such as pregnancy and disorders, are also significant.
The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine Recommended Intakes for Individuals – Daily Reference Intakes (DRIs) for folate:


  • 0 to 6 months: 65 mcg/day*
  • 7 to 12 months: 80 mcg/day*

*For infants from birth to 12 months, the Food and Nutrition Board built an Acceptable Intake (AI) for folate that is equal to the mean absorption of folate in healthy, breastfed babies in the United States.


  • 1 to 3 years: 150 mcg/day
  • 4 to 8 years: 200 mcg/day
  • 9 to 13 years: 300 mcg/day

Teenagers and adults

  • Males, age 14 and older: 400 mcg/day
  • Females, age 14 and older: 400 mcg/day
  • Pregnant females of all ages: 600 mcg/day
  • Breastfeeding females of all ages: 500 mcg/day