Best Folate (Folic Acid) Supplements

Folate, also known as vitamin B-9, is a nutrient important to healthy cell growth, red blood cell formation and making/repairing DNA. It also has several health benefits.

If you don’t get enough folate in your diet, it can result in a deficiency, which has multiple negative side effects.

So in this article, we’ll be discussing our picks for the best folate supplements on the market.

But first, you may be wondering what folate is and how it works so we’ll start there so that you have a better idea of whether or not supplementation is right for you.

 

What is Folate?

If you’re looking into buying a folate supplement, you may have come across folic acid supplements as well.

Folate, as well as folic acid, are forms of vitamin B-9. There’s no doubt plenty of people who have been led to believe they’re the same thing, but that’s not quite the case and there are some important distinctions between the two.

Folic acid is an artificially-produced, synthetic form of vitamin B-9, whereas folate is naturally occurring.

In the digestive system, folate is converted into the most biologically active form of vitamin B-9, which is called 5-MTHF. Folic acid, on the other hand, is not converted to the biologically active form of vitamin B-9 nearly as much as with folate.

In other words, folate is the more bioavailable between the two and is by far the better option.

As mentioned in the introduction, folate is necessary for making DNA. It does this through a process called methylation. (1)

It’s also needed for cell division and to produce healthy red blood cells. (2)

 

Benefits of Folate Supplementation

There are numerous benefits to taking a folate supplement. Some of them include:

 

Healthy Pregnancies

Adequate levels of folate are essential in pregnancy, and there are even indications that adequate folate levels in the father are important as well. (3)

Not getting enough folate during pregnancy can lead to neural tube defects, congenital deformities, and miscarriages.

 

Heart Health

Researchers have found that folate supplements lower levels of homocysteine, which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. (4)

 

Could Protect Against Cancer

Research suggests that folate supplementation can lower the risk of colorectal cancer and breast cancer. (5)

 

Decreases Risk of Depression

Folate isn’t recommended as a stand-alone supplement for depression, but some studies have shown that there’s a correlation between low folate levels and depression. (6)

 

Hair Health

Some studies have shown that there’s a correlation between low levels of folate and premature graying, so it’s likely that folate supplementation could be helpful in this regard. (7)

 

#1: Life Extension Folate & Vitamin B12

Image of a bottle of LifeExtension BioActive Folate & Vitamin B12

Life Extension’s Folate and Vitamin B12 supplement claimed the spot for the overall best folate supplement on our list. That’s because of its smart formula and excellent value for the price.

Folate has multiple functions in the body, but we know that many people seek out folate supplements to address graying because of their relationship with hair growth and color. That’s why we’ve decided to include several supplements on our list that have not just folate, but vitamin B12 as well.

At 400 mcg of folate and 300 mcg of vitamin B12, this supplement has reasonable levels of two of the most important substances for maintaining hair strength and color. 400 mcg of folate is 100% of the daily value, which we like to see in supplements—you’ll likely get some folate from your diet as well, so they could have included less, but this isn’t a harmful amount. On the other hand, 300 mcg of vitamin B12 is 5,000% of the daily value, which we find excessive, but vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning that it’s not stored in the body and the excess is excreted through the urine.

While megadoses have been deemed safe, it’s just not necessary to take more than required and as with any substances, too much can be a bad thing. We don’t understand why so many supplement companies go so far overboard with vitamin B12 doses, but this supplement is actually on the low end, considering many vitamin B12 supplements contain 30,000%+ of the recommended daily value.

Other than that, Life Extension Folate & Vitamin B12 is made with vegetable capsules that are very small in size, so they’re suitable for vegetarians and they’re easy to swallow.

Pros:

  • Contains a sufficient amount of folate and vitamin B12
  • Addresses the underlying problems of graying and losing hair if you have a deficiency
  • Vegetarian capsules
  • Small, easy to swallow pills
  • Price

Cons:

  • Contains more vitamin B12 than necessary

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#2: Jarrow Formulas Methyl B-12/Methyl Folate and Pyridoxal-5-phosphate (P-5-P) Lozenges

Image of a bottle of Jarrow Formulas Methyl B12 Methyl Folate, one of the best folate supplements

We always like to include non-pill form supplements when it comes to ranking them, and Jarrow Formulas Methyl B-12/Methyl Folate and Pyridoxal-5-phosphate (P-5-P) Lozenges fits the bill for that. These lozenges are great tasting, last several minutes, and are a great option if you prefer not taking pills for whatever reason. They come in lemon flavor and a bottle contains 100.

These lozenges do not contain wheat, gluten, soybeans, dairy, egg, fish/shellfish, or peanuts/tree nuts. Considering this product is the folate form of vitamin B12, it should convert to 5-MTHF as good as any vitamin B12 supplement you’ll find on the market.

Jarrow Formulas’ Folate/B12 supplement isn’t quite as good of a value as what you get with our number one pick, but it’s a very good value nonetheless.

Pros:

  • Great option if you don’t like/can’t take pills
  • Doesn’t cause an upset stomach
  • Uses the most active form of folate
  • A bottle contains a 3 month+ supply

Cons:

  • Contains xylitol, which is a sugar alcohol
  • Some consumers say that it causes them constipation
  • Some think the sugary taste is too strong

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#3: Pure Encapsulations – B12 Folate – Activated Vitamin B12 and Folate

Image of a bottle of Pure Encapsulations B12 Folate

We’ve reviewed multiple Pure Encapsulations supplements and they’re known to have pure ingredients with logical formulations. You can expect the same with Pure Encapsulations – B12 Folate – Activated Vitamin B12 and Folate.

This supplement contains 1,333 mcg of folate and 800 mcg of vitamin B12. These dose sizes are a little larger than we’d like to see because they’re above the daily recommended value, but they’re within a safe range.

The folate in this Pure Encapsulations product is Metafolin®, which is a patented form of folate but is essentially the same thing and it’s the bioactive form, so the body doesn’t need to convert it.

This supplement comes in vegetarian capsules that are hypoallergenic and certified gluten-free.

Pros:

  • Hypoallergenic
  • Certified gluten-free
  • This supplement, like all Pure Encapsulations supplements, is free from wheat, gluten, egg, peanuts, magnesium stearate, hydrogenated fat, artificial sweeteners and colors, and other unnecessary excipients.
  • Very small capsules

Cons:

  • Contains more than necessary amounts of folate and vitamin B12
  • Can cause headaches and nausea in some

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#4: Vital Nutrients – Vitamin B12 / Methyl Folate

Image of a bottle of Vital Nutrients B-12 / Methyl Folate

This folate/B12 supplement by Vital Nutrients has gotten glowing reviews from consumers, so we wanted to take a look at why it has been so effective for people.

It contains 800 mcg of folate as L-5-MTHF Metafolin®, which is the same patented form of folate that the #3 supplement has. Likewise, it has 1,000 mcg of vitamin B12. This is a little more than we’d like to see of both of these because again, they go beyond the daily recommended value, but for the most part, it’s nothing to be overly concerned about.

This supplement comes in vegetarian capsules, so it’s suitable for vegetarians and vegans. It does not contain gluten, dairy/milk, egg, soy, sugar, binders or coatings. Unfortunately, though, it does contain a filler, rice powder.

This product is made by an American company that has high manufacturing standards. They produce their products in a manufacturing facility in Connecticut. Vital Nutrients is the official supplement manufacturer for Cancer Treatment Centers of America’s Hospital, so it’s a pretty trustworthy brand.

This product is tested for authenticity and potency.

Pros: 

  • Produced by a manufacturer with high standards
  • Veggie capsules
  • No allergens

Cons:

  • Contains a filler
  • Expensive

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#5: Jarrow Formulas Methyl Folate 5-MTHF

Image of a bottle of Jarrow Formulas Methyl Folate supplement

This list wouldn’t be complete without including a strictly folate-only supplement, and you can’t go wrong with this one by Jarrow Formulas Methyl Folate 5-MTHF.

We’re fans of straightforward, no-nonsense supplements that are formulated simply and safely, which is exactly what you get here.

This supplement contains 400 mcg of the stable, bioavailable form of folate, 100% of the recommended daily value. We like how Jarrow Formulas didn’t go overboard with the dosage—if you have a folate deficiency, you just don’t need any more than 100% of the recommended value, and you’ll invariably get some from your diet as well.

This product does not contain any wheat, gluten, soybeans, dairy, egg, fish/shellfish, peanuts or tree nuts. These come in vegetable capsules so they’re suitable for vegetarians. They’re also very small so they’re really easy to swallow.

Jarrow Formulas is a trustworthy company that has been around since the late 70s, so it’s nice to have that peace of mind.

Pros:

  • Contains high-quality, bioavailable form of folate
  • Contains 100% of the daily value
  • Comes in vegetable capsules
  • Small size makes them easy to swallow

Cons:

  • Consumers have reported it caused side effects such as rashes and headaches (although this could be due to folate in general and not due to this specific supplement)
  • Some don’t respond well to the Quatrefolic form of folate (i.e. some people report that it causes them fatigue). This was not the case in my personal experience though.

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Conclusion

If you’re looking for the absolute best folate supplement on the market, we recommend Life Extension’s Folate and Vitamin B12 because of its formula, value and reputable manufacturer. We like how the folate+vitamin B12 formula is ideal for improving and maintaining hair health without having to take multiple supplements. And considering vegetarians essentially need to get vitamin B12 from supplements (it’s difficult to get it in the diet aside from animal products), it’s great that it comes in vegetarian capsules.

We think this supplement is going to be the best option for the widest range of consumers.

That said, each one of these supplements provides value in their own way and so one of the other ones may be the best option for you.

Do you have any experience with any of the supplements listed here? Feel free to share your experience with us and our other readers in the comments section.

 

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