Folic acid is the synthetic form of a natural substance called folate. It is not made in the body or found in nature, but your body can convert it into active folate. Folate provides essential functions throughout your body and helps you to stay healthy and active. 

In the UK, many people don’t get enough folate through their diet, so it is necessary to take folic acid to boost your folate levels. Some governments across the world, including in the UK, routinely fortify staple food items like bread with folic acid.

As well as any folic acid or folate received through your diet, there are several situations in which you must consider taking an extra daily amount. To help you decide if, when and how to take folic acid, let’s go through the details and then introduce you to the best supplements available in the UK.

What is Folic Acid? 

Folic acid is a synthetic substance that is used to boost folate levels in your body. It is used instead of folate because it is easier to produce, and remains stable during storage. When you take folic acid, a series of enzyme driven processes convert it into folate.

Folate, also known as vitamin B9, is one of the B vitamins. It is needed for vital biochemical processes such as making red blood cells and cell division. It can be found in many foods including legumes, eggs and leafy greens.

Reasons to Take Folic Acid 

Folate is an essential part of our daily diet. However, there are several reasons why you might need to top it up with a daily folic acid supplement.

-To reduce the risk of problems in early pregnancy

The NHS recommends that pregnant women should take between 400 and 600µg during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Folate rich foods should also be eaten during this time as well as daily supplementation. This is to prevent congenital disabilities like spina bifida. Higher levels of folate in a mother can significantly reduce the chances of the baby suffering from a group of conditions known as neural tube defects.

In cases where doctors believe that there is a higher chance of a neural tube condition, they advise a high daily dose of 5mg of folic acid. Higher doses like this should only be taken on the advice of your doctor.

-To treat or prevent folate deficiency

Low levels of folate in your body can cause a range of symptoms including tiredness, muscle weakness, headaches, dizziness and shortness of breath. When it occurs over a longer time, more severe conditions like folate deficiency anaemia can develop. This is when the long term lack of folate results in your body being unable to make fully functioning red blood cells.

-To reduce the side effects of methotrexate

This is a medicine used to treat arthritis, Crohn’s disease and psoriasis. It is known to cause unpleasant side effects such as nausea, diarrhoea and dizziness. In the UK, when a doctor prescribes it, Folic Acid is often given as well to reduce their severity.

-To boost fertility

Folate is involved in the division of cells and the production of new genetic material. This means that it is crucial to the creation and growth of healthy sperm and also provides a significant role in supporting female fertility and preparing you to become pregnant.

There is still much to be understood about the specific ways in which folate increases male and female fertility. Still, studies are increasingly highlighting the link between better pregnancy outcomes and folic acid supplementation.

How Much Should I Take?

The average adult requires a daily amount of 400µg of folate, which is increased to 600mcg if you are pregnant. For some conditions, you may need a more significant amount, but in this instance, you should take to your doctor about your symptoms first.

Are There Any Side Effects? 

Side effects from taking the daily recommended amount of 400µg of Folic acid are unlikely, but some people may experience nausea, loss of appetite, or bloating. There are also some related conditions and complications that should be looked out for. Some people are allergic to Folic acid, and others have a genetic condition that prevents their body from successfully converting it into folate. This can result in a build-up of folic acid and cause your folate deficiency to remain untreated. If you are taking folic acid and your symptoms continue, visit your doctor and explain your concerns.

The Best Folic Acid Supplements Available in the UK

1. 400µg Folic Acid Tablets from ZipVit

These tablets deliver 400µg allowing you to take your daily amount in one go. For less than £7 you get a bottle of 360 which is close to a year’s supply. 

Zipvit has been producing vitamins since 1999, so have over two decades of experience in the industry. The vegetarian society has approved these tablets as suitable for both vegetarians and vegans. A bottle costs £6.97, and a tablet is priced at less than 2p.

Key points

Suitable for vegans

Registered with the Vegetarian Society

400µg of folic acid delivered per tablet 

360 tablets per bottle

£6.97 per bottle 

2p per tablet

Buy these tablets now

2. 400µg Folic Acid Tablets from Healthspan

High-quality vitamins from one of our favourite supplement brands, Healthspan. These are specially formulated for quick absorption and contain 400µg in each tablet. With a bottle providing 360 tablets for less than £10 this is a bargain.

Healthspan has been producing supplements and vitamins from their base in Guernsey since 1996. Their team of experts focus on delivering the best ingredients in formulations that can be easily absorbed.

Key points

Suitable for vegans

400µg of folic acid delivered per tablet 

360 tablets per bottle

£9.45 per bottle 

3p per tablet

Buy these tablets now

3. Folic Acid 400µg From Simply Supplements

Produced in the UK and quality assured by the Good Manufacturing Processes system, these tablets contain 400µg of folic acid each. They are registered with the vegan society as meeting their official standards for vegan products.

Each bottle holds 360 tablets, each with a daily dose of folic acid. A container is £7.49, and a tablet is priced at just over 2p.

Key points

Suitable for vegans

Registered with the Vegan Society

400µg of folic acid delivered per tablet 

360 tablets per bottle

£7.49 per bottle 

2p per tablet

Buy these tablets now

4. Holland & Barratt Folic Acid Tablets

Produced by Holland & Barratt to their stringent quality assurance standards, these vegan supplements each hold 400µg folic acid. You have the choice of a bottle of 60 tablets or 250 tablets. While their prices are similar to other items on this list, they often do ‘buy one get one half price’ offers or similar.

Holland & Barratt’s decades of experience as the UK’s most well-known health food and supplement shop has meant that every product is produced with precise attention to detail. A 60 tablet bottle costs £1.99; a 250 tablet bottle costs £8.89. A single tablet would cost 3p and 4p, respectively making this a rare occurrence where the smaller container is the best value.

Key points

Suitable for vegans

400µg of folic acid delivered per tablet 

60 or 250 tablets per bottle

£7.49 per bottle 

3p or 4p per tablet

Buy these tablets now

Conclusion 

Folic acid is a great way to boost your folate levels. In recent years people across the world have struggled to ingest as much folate as they need from natural food sources. This makes the need for high-quality supplements even greater.

For most people, a folic acid supplement will provide support for many chemical processes, increase their energy and reduce lethargy and tiredness. It is also useful to boost fertility and reduce the chance of neural tube defects in babies.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best folic acid supplement?

The best folic acid supplements available in the UK are ZipVit’s 400µg tablets. You get nearly a years supply of high-quality folic acid for less than £7.
If you want a smaller number of tablets, Holland & Barratts’ 400mµg tablets are quality assured and come in bottles of 60 or 250.

What’s the best folic acid supplement for pregnancy?

The best folic acid supplements for pregnancy are ZipVit’s 400µg tablets. They are useful for all needs but have been designed for use by women during pregnancy.

When should I take folic acid morning or night?

A daily amount of folic acid is usually available in one tablet which can be taken at any time of the day. To make it easier to remember, it is best to choose a time and stick to it every day.

How much folic acid should you take?

The average adult requires a daily amount of 400µg of folate, which can be increased to 600µg if you are pregnant. For some conditions, a doctor may recommend a more significant amount.

About The Author

Health and Wellness Editor

Tim W. Shaw writes extensively about CBD oil, medical cannabis and other ground-breaking food supplements. He and his wife share their home with two daughters and a lifetime’s collection of books.

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