What is B12 Folate?
Let us warn you right now, if you start to google B12 folate, you’re going to go down a science rabbit hole.
Yes, there’s enough written about the topic to keep you interested, but pro-tip: when the first page of google still has several scientific studies listed in the search preview, you’re in for a whole lot of jargon.
Since we like that stuff, and because we carry an incredible Active B12-Folate Supplement, we deciphered the jargon for you, so that you could have the answers you’re looking for when it comes to your health.
What is B12 and What is Folate?
Step one, let’s define these friends, shall we? These are both super important for health, and they do so much for our bodies that we can dedicate an article just to each function—so this is just a quick overview.
Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin. That means we need it to survive, but we don’t make it internally so we need to get it from our food (scroll down for food sources of B12).
B12 is one of those vitamins that helps with everything—we literally cannot function without it.
It improves our immune function, helps with DNA reproduction, ensures that our nervous system is able to function properly, is imperative for memory, cognition, and concentration, helps to balance the digestive tract (especially in matters of the stomach lining), and it improves our blood flow.
This is the short list of B12 benefits. Just know that it’s super important for our ability to function, most people are not deficient, and we need roughly 2.4 daily micrograms of B12 as not-pregnant or breastfeeding adults (babies and prepubescent children need less). It’s not that much, but it’s vital to create the red blood cells that your body needs.
Let’s start here: the difference between folate and folic acid is that folate is natural form and folic acid is synthetic. Our Active B12 Folate Supplement has a natural form of the vitamin.
Folate is actually another B vitamin (B9) but it has this special name because it’s known to prevent miscarriage and birth defects so it’s really commonly prescribed for moms and soon to be moms.
It is important for healthy development of babies and for great metabolism in adults. It is used to work with people with anemia and is being studied for additional uses for things like improved cognition and memory along with blood flow.
In contrast to vitamin B12, it’s actually pretty common for people to be deficient in folate. A normal range of folate is about 400 micrograms a day, which is easily made up with a few weeks of taking a supplement. The important thing to note here is that the symptoms of folate deficiency are similar to that of B12 deficiency and can sometimes mask an issue with B12—which is more serious.
A Complicated Relationship
So what we know is that being deficient in vitamin B12 has a direct impact on your ability to absorb folate.
The reason for this is actually really sciency and complicated because is still being studied for the exact understanding of how these two things interact, but the going theory is called a 'methyl trap' hypothesis. Here’s the nutshell version without all the big words like “pteroylpolyglutamate synthetase” and “5-methyl-H4PteGlu.” (Is that even a word?):
Right now, we understand that our body absorbs folate fully and directly through permeable cells (epithelial cells) in the intestinal wall and that 5-methyl-not word is a form of metabolized folate that is found in the plasma cells in our blood.
Remember how B12 helps with blood flow and stomach lining? Yeah, so it seems that a lack of B12 actually hinders the body from metabolizing the folate we get from our diets into the usable plasma form—which is a viscous substance in our blood we use to transport nutrients around our body and clot when we’re bleeding.
The relationship between B12 and Folate is also why taking a supplement with both vitamins is preferable to just folate if you’re working with symptoms or if your lab tests show that you need both.
Causes and Symptoms of B12 Folate Deficiency
There are two main causes of deficiencies in both B12 and Folate
1 - Your gut health is impaired.
2 - Your diet isn’t quite right.
The way that we absorb both vitamin B12 and folate is through our gut an intestinal tract. If your gut health is impaired, it’s important to work on that first so you can properly absorb the nutrients. This typically refers to issues like a thin gut lining, certain types of anemia, parasitic or bacterial issues, or taking medications that hinder the absorption of the nutrients. In general, all dis-ease starts in the gut, so taking care of this issue is going to be the best thing for you overall.
If the problem is with your diet, you’re in luck because it’s an easy fix. Change your diet to include the foods below and stick with the pro-B12 Folate diet. Remember that it really isn’t that hard to get enough of these nutrients from your diet, so we definitely prefer that route to adding a supplement to your day.
For those of you that are vegan, know that B12 often comes from animal products, so you might want to chat with your dietitian about getting on a supplement.
If you’re working with anemia from B12 deficiency, your doctor might recommend shots in the beginning so that your body more readily accept the B12 from your diet later.
Symptoms to look out for
We know that googling “B12 Folate Deficiency” can lead you down a scary path of symptom checking, and fear mongering is not a pleasant way to keep you informed. So rather than regurgitating the list, we’re here to tell you what to look for - and if you see the signs of deficiency, stop googling and get a blood lab test for your B12 and Folate levels.
If you’re super duper tired, like all the time, and you feel listless like you don’t have energy, get a test.
If you start to feel pins and needles in your body, random numbness, confusion, or unsteadiness regularly, get a test done.
Foods with B12 and Folate
The truth is, these two awesome vitamins come from different stuff—all the more reason for a balanced diet right? Like with the symptoms, you can google a definitive list of things to add to your diet but here’s the general rule of thumb for B12 and Folate Foods:
Foods with B12 in them are predominately animal products like yogurt, seafood, cheese, eggs, and meats - liver is especially high in B12.
Dark green veggies and dried legumes are the quintessential folate foods—but eggs, beets, avocado, and asparagus are all high in the vitamin too!
A Fast and Simple Salad Recipe for B12 and Folate
This is a lunch staple at my house because it’s so yummy and healthy—plus it takes almost no time to make.
A bag of of baby salad or mixed greens
A can of fresh caught mackerel (sardines or salmon is also yummy here)
A hardboiled egg
Mozzarella Cheese (1-2 oz)
A Healthy Dressing (I like olive oil with ACV, salt, pepper, garlic, and sriracha for a quick one)
Dice the tomato. Cut the avocado, egg, and mozzarella to the size you like.
The mackerel will need to be pulled apart. Use a fork in the can to separate it into bite-sized chunks. If it’s in water, drain the water. If it’s in oil, use the oil in your dressing! (yum)
Assemble your salad, pour on the dressing, and enjoy!
Still looking for a Supplement?
Try our Active B12 Folate Supplement!
Like all of our products, the B12 Folate has been rigorously tested for efficacy and it doesn’t contain anything but the purest ingredients.
Folic acid with or without vitamin B12 for cognition and dementia.
Vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anaemia
The relationships between vitamin B12 and folic acid and the effect of methionine on folate metabolism.