Folate vs. Folic Acid Debate!

Folate is required each time our body makes new cells (and we make new cells daily even if we are not pregnant); it is a B vitamin (B9 to be specific) that can be found abundantly in beans, fruits and vegetables…leafy greens in particular. Folate (we actually tend to hear others refer to it as Folic Acid more) is most known for helping to prevent neural-tube birth defects such as spina bifida. However, folate is essential for processing vitamin B12 and studies are suggesting that it might help protect against Alzheimer’s disease, colorectal cancer and strokes.

So why do we always hear some medical professionals and organizations indicating that expectant moms need Folic Acid instead of stating Folate instead? What is the difference?

Many medical professionals may feel that folate and folic acid are primarily the same thing, however, there is a significant difference in my opinion. Folic acid refers to the synthetic compound (meaning it was made in a laboratory) of folate used in dietary supplements and food fortification, whereas Folate is the natural derivative found in food. Studies have shown that isolated vitamins can cause imbalances within our body since our body was designed to consume whole foods.

Thousands of nutrients in green leafys and other plants work in synergy within our body; meaning they work together and in harmony.  Each of our cells know how to make these nutrients more powerful and use them most effectively. When we get too much of 1 thing (like 1 nutrient or 1 too many sweets, etc) it can start impacting our body in a negative way.

So whether you a preparing your body for conception or you are currently an expectant mom, ensure you are consuming a wide variety of whole foods and foods high in folate as much as possible.


Some simple ways to increase folate and high folate dense foods include:

  1. Green Smoothies…include kale, spinach, collard greens or romaine in your next smoothie for that added folate boost!
  2. Natural juices made with dark green leafys, broccoli and other foods high in folate
  3. Roast Asparagus…1 cup of asparagus has 262 mcg of folic acid, which accounts for approximately 65% of your daily needs
  4. Steam or roast broccoli as it is also high in folate
  5. Add Beans/Lentils to a recipe, meal or soup
    1. Lentils — 1 cup = 358 mcg of folate (90% DV)
    2. Pinto Beans — 1 cup = 294 mcg of folate (74% DV)
    3. Garbanzo Beans — 1 cup = 282 mcg of folate (71% DV)
    4. Black Beans — 1 cup = 256 mcg of folate (64% DV)
    5. Navy Beans — 1 cup = 254 mcg of folate (64% DV)
    6. Kidney Beans — 1 cup = 229 mcg of folate (57% DV)
    7. Lima Beans — 1 cup = 156 mcg of folate (39% DV)
    8. Split Peas — 1 cup = 127 mcg of folate (32% DV)
    9. Green Peas — 1 cup = 101 mcg of folate (25% DV)
    10. Green Beans — 1 cup = 42 mcg of folate (10% DV)

Additionally, I also recommend increasing and ensuring your folate consumption with supplementation for added “insurance”… the key is to be a good label reader and select a high quality product made out of whole foods.


MelanieMelanie is the Wellness Coordinator for Willowsong Midwifery Care, a Certified Health Coach (through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and AADP), and more importantly a mom of 3 small children. She is very passionate about empowering moms and children in attaining overall health and wellness and loves supporting Willowsong Families with health classes, free initial prenatal consults, information via blogging and much more! Melanie approaches health from a holistic perspective, meaning that she believes each component of our lives creates our overall health and wellness. You are welcome to connect with Melanie anytime via email (

Please don’t just take Melanie’s experience…as always consult with your medical professional and your own self understanding when making health decision; Melanie is not a medical professional, a nutritionist or dietician. She does not hold a degree in medicine, dietetics, or nutrition. Melanie makes no claim to any specialized medical training, nor does she dispense medical advice or prescriptions. This content is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease, preconception or pregnancy health. It is intended to be provided for informational, educational, and self-empowerment purposes ONLY. Please consult with your doctor and/or wellness team if you have questions and then make your own well-informed decisions based upon what is best for your unique genetics, culture, conditions, and stage of life.