Is folate and vitamin B12 the same thing?
Folate (B9) and cyanocobalamin (B12) are not the same thing, but both are B vitamins that cannot be made in the body. They are required to be consumed in the diet.
Whilst B12 can be stored in the body for a long time, folate only has a short term capacity to be stored.
Think of folate and B12 like a couple, a very cooperative couple.
One of the biggest jobs they collaborate on is making red blood cells and ensuring healthy nerve functioning.
Alongside vitamin B6, folate and B12 also control levels of homocysteine in the blood. High homocysteine levels are associated with a range of health problems including cardiovascular disease and stroke.
However, it is unclear whether high homocysteine levels are a side effect or a contributing factor.
Which folate-rich foods should we be eating and how often?
Folate is found in an abundance of foods.
Leafy green vegetables are a great source, including broccoli, spring greens, kale, Brussels sprouts and cabbage.
Other sources include asparagus, peas, chickpeas, kidney beans, brown rice, peanuts, sunflower seeds, fruits and fortified foods, such as cereal.
However, it cannot be produced in the body or stored for very long, so you should aim to be eating folate-rich foods every day. This should help you achieve the recommended daily allowance of 200 micrograms for adults.
Eating a variety of vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes and wholegrains each day should help you achieve this.
Of note, folate is a water-soluble vitamin, so a small amount may be lost if food is over-cooked, microwaved or steamed.
Alcohol can also decrease the absorption of folate.