The word folic acid is derived from the Latin «folium», the leaf. Accordingly, a lot of folic acid or dietary folate is also found in dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, broccoli, chard or Brussels sprouts. However, whole grain products, legumes, eggs, milk and dairy products, and liver are also good sources of folic acid. Folic acid is sensitive, and since storage and preparation processes can severely affect the folic acid content of foods, each of us should pay special attention to our folic acid supply.

What is the difference between folate and folic acid?
Folic acid is a general term for a group of water-soluble B vitamins and is also known as vitamin B9. Folic acid is a pure synthetic compound that does not exist in this form in nature. The natural form found in food is folate. In humans, the most important metabolite is 5-MTHF 5-methyl-tetra-hydro-folate, also known as 5-MTHF, with a share of more than 90%. The conversion of synthetic folic acid into its biologically active form must be carried out by the body with the help of an enzyme, methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR). Only this enzyme enables the conversion of folic acid into 5-MTHF.
Unfortunately, this enzyme is not present in the same way in all people, i.e. the synthetic folic acid is much less able to be converted into the natural metabolite (these are substances that are formed as intermediates or as degradation products of metabolic processes of the organism). This problem is very common. Overall, about 50% of all women in Central Europe are affected. Therefore, supplementation makes sense - especially for pregnant women in the first third of pregnancy or, ideally, beforehand if they are planning to have a child, folate should definitely be taken daily.

Folic acid for athletes
Among other things, folic acid is important for energy supply and cell renewal in the body. For intensive athletes, even a slight undersupply can lead to restrictions in performance efficiency, regenerative ability and immune defense. For this reason, an adequate supply of folic acid is particularly important for athletes, because they consume the B vitamins, which include folic acid, to a particularly high degree. This is due to the high energy requirement during training, the increased tissue formation and the increased excretion of substances through sweat, urine and stool during and after exertion. This loss must be compensated adequately.

What are the consequences of a folate deficiency?
A folic acid deficiency unfortunately leads to a variety of symptoms such as anemia and diarrhea, and it even increases the risk of dementia in old age. Folic acid deficiency during pregnancy means an increased risk of malformations of the neural tube (spina bifida - open back) in the child.
(Source: German Nutrition Society)

Why should women who want to become pregnant and women in the first trimester of pregnancy take additional folic acid?
During the first four weeks of pregnancy, the neural tube of the unborn child normally closes. If the folate supply is inadequate during this critical phase, the risk of the neural tube not closing or not closing properly increases. This results in neural tube defects. There are various causes for neural tube defects. However, studies such as the one by Czeizel and Dudas have shown that the frequency of neural tube defects can be reduced by taking folic acid supplements.
(Source: The New England Journal of Medicine)

What is the recommended intake of folate equivalents?
The recommended intake of folate equivalents depends on a person’s age. For adolescents and adults, it is 300 µg per day. Pregnant and breastfeeding women have an increased requirement, so the recommended intake for pregnant women is 550 µg and for breastfeeding women 450 µg of folate equivalents per day.
(Source: German Nutrition Society)

What is the difference between folate and folic acid?
In EnergyBalance® we use a patented and very high quality folic acid called Quatrefolic®. It is characterized by a long-lasting stability, a particularly high water solubility and a resulting improved bioavailability.
Quatrefolic® is the glucosamine salt of 5-MTHF and offers the most bioavailable form of reduced folate on the market. Folic acid, as well as food-grade folate, is not biologically active and must be converted to the metabolically active 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF) through a multi-step process in which the enzyme methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) plays a key role. This important conversion process, often referred to as the methylation cycle, is a network of interconnected biochemical reactions in which a carbon methyl group is transferred from one compound to another. Folate and methionine are key components of the methylation cycle and are required for normal cellular function. This process occurs in all cells of the body and is critical for a variety of functions of the human body.

Quatrefolic® folate as a source of folic acid has several advantages:
- The folate compound 5-MTHF is the same as the body's own biologically active form of folate.
- 5-MTHF is naturally directly available and is utilized better than synthetic folic acid
- It is not derived from animal sources and it therefor suitable for vegetarians