Folate, folic acid and folinic acid are all forms of a water-soluble B vitamin. Folate occurs naturally in food. Folic acid is the synthetic form that is found in supplements and fortified foods. In order to utilize folic acid, the body must first convert it to a reduced form of folate and then add a methyl group to form 5-methyl-tetra-hydrofolate.
Supplying the body with folinic acid (a reduced folate derivative) bypasses many of the required metabolic steps, and the folinic acid is rapidly converted to 5-methyl-tetra-hydrofolate. 5-methyl-tetra-hydrofolate is the only form of folate transported into the brain.
Folinic acid is one of the supplements used to promote higher levels of glutathione in individuals with autism, and it is also being used to promote higher levels of dopamine.
Folate is necessary for the production and maintenance of new cells. This is especially important during periods of rapid cell division and growth such as infancy and pregnancy. Folate is needed to make DNA and RNA, the building blocks of cells. It also helps prevent changes to DNA that may lead to cancer.
Please note that folate supplementation may interfere with anticonvulsant drugs. Folic acid is also most effective when taken with methyl B12 and vitamin C.
- Rosenblatt, D.S. and Fenton, W.A., Inherited Disorders of Folate and Cobalamin Transport and Metabolism. 8 th Ed. McGraw-Hill (2001) 3900.
- Scriver, C.R. et al., The Metabolic and Molecular Bases of Inherited Disease. 8th Ed. McGraw-Hill (2001) 3906.
- McCandless, J., Children with Starving Brains. 3rd Edition 2007, p 126.
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