Synthetic vs Natural
In food folate is in the form of pteroyl glutamic acid which requires complicated conversion and is unstable. The synthetic form, pteroyl monoglutamic acid, used in supplements is a stable molecule with better bioavailability. Absorption from food between 50-66% from supplements it’s double that. Small amounts produced by bacteria in intestines but mostly lost in stool. (Braun and Cohen 2005).

Deficiency Signs and Symptoms
All cells are affected, especially rapidly dividing ones such as red blood cells and gastro-intestinal tract cells.
Poor growth, diarrhoea, anaemia, gingivitis, abnormal pap smear in females. Depression, insomnia, irritability, forgetfulness, loss of appetite, fatigue, shortness of breath. Macrocytic anaemia, senility, hair loss, headache, nausea, weight loss. (Murray 2001)

Main Naturopathic Uses
Before conception and during pregnancy (dose 400 mcg) – deficiency one month before conception or during the first trimester is an independent risk factor for neural tube defects in newborns.

Deficiency from oral contraceptive use – more than five years of use can be associated with a progressive decrease in folate levels and can result in mood changes and NTD if pregnant within one mnth of stopping.

According to recent research folate aids in homocysteine reduction and cardiovascular disease protection, together with B6 and 12.

Depression – especially in psychiatric and geriatric populations. Between 15-38% of depressed people have a  deficiency (Albert and Fava 1997).