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Thread: Folic Acid vs Folate — What's the Difference?

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    Administrator Islander's Avatar
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    Default Folic Acid vs Folate — What's the Difference?

    Atli Arnarson, PhD
    June 3, 2017

    Folate and folic acid are different forms of vitamin B9.
    Even though there is a distinct difference between the two, their names are often used interchangeably.
    In fact, there is a lot of confusion regarding folic acid and folate, even among professionals.
    Being aware of their differences is important, because they do not have the same effects on your health.
    This article explains the difference between folic acid and folate.

    Keep reading: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition...acid-vs-folate
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    Default Re: Folic Acid vs Folate — What's the Difference?

    And a more scholarly article for those who want to dig a bit deeper: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Fo...hProfessional/
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    Veteran Member grulla's Avatar
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    Default Re: Folic Acid vs Folate — What's the Difference?

    It's been a rocky road with the FDA and folate in the recent past:
    http://www.anh-usa.org/fda-reverses-its-folate-ban/

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    Veteran Member Mr. Wizard's Avatar
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    Default Re: Folic Acid vs Folate — What's the Difference?

    For many years, pregnant women have been encouraged to increase their intake of folate because data shows this leads to healthier babies. For example, folate guards against low infant birth weight, premature delivery, neural tube defects, etc. etc. What's new is "want-to-be fathers" are also being encouraged to increase their folate intake because this also helps to produce healthier babies.

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    Default Re: Folic Acid vs Folate — What's the Difference?

    I had a high school friend with "neural tube defect" which back then was called "spina bifida." I'm fairly sure no one at the time suspected a nutritional deficiency as the cause. She is still alive, confined to a wheelchair most of her life.
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    Veteran Member Mr. Wizard's Avatar
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    Default Re: Folic Acid vs Folate — What's the Difference?

    Yeah, some in the medical field still use the term "spina bifida." Unfortunately, child-bearing age women with diabetes or who are obese have a greater risk of giving birth to babies with spina bifida. Given the ever increasing numbers of young people with diabetes and obesity, there's an increased risk of babies born with spina bifida.

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    Default Re: Folic Acid vs Folate — What's the Difference?

    I don't doubt that for a minute, Mr. Wizard, but I wonder why it is so, when a food or vitamin supplement could so easily prevent it.
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    Veteran Member Mr. Wizard's Avatar
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    Default Re: Folic Acid vs Folate — What's the Difference?

    As I understand it, docs don't know exactly what causes spina bifida. Research suggests it's caused by a combination of genetic, envrionmental, and nutritional factors. So, you're right that a vit. B9 (folate) supplement or diet high in folate would mitigate against the nutritional aspect. Genetically, it appears a baby is more at risk if there's a family history of neural tube defects. In addition, women who are obese, or have insulin-dependent diabetes with uncontrolled blood sugar, and who take certain medications appear to be at greater risk, too. So, it appears there's a combination of factors at work here. You can read more detail here: https://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/spina-bifida

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