Don’t Miss a Single Update or New Release! Sign up Today

Folate (Vitamin B9) Benefits, Side Effects, Uses & Warnings

<p>Folate (Vitamin B9) Benefits, Side Effects, Uses &amp; Warnings</p>
Dr. Constance Odom, MD Picture of Dr. Constance Odom, MD

Medically reviewed by

Written by our editorial team.

Last Edited 7 min read

Vitamin B9, or Folate, is one of the vitamins which is a member of the B-family complex. The water-soluble vitamin is not only responsible for cellular metabolism, it is also imperative for energy production and processing/breaking down the foods we eat each day. Folate is extremely beneficial in both RNA and DNY synthesis. This is important at different stages of human development, and during periods of rapid growth (puberty). Folate is responsible for helping control homocysteine levels. If these get to be too high in the human body, it can lead to several chronic conditions, including heart disease, cancer, depression, and conditions like diabetes.


Benefits of Folate (Vitamin B9)

There are a number of positive health benefits which are linked to the consumption of folate on a daily basis. Among these are:

1.       Healthy heart –

Studies suggest that proper levels of folate in the diet can help to reduce the risk of heart disease, and certain heart related conditions like strokes. By reducing homocysteine levels and improving vascular functions, high-dosages of folic acid was found to be extremely effective in treating those who suffered from coronary artery disease.


2.       Reduce the risk of cancer –

Folate is integral to DNA synthesis, repair, and stability. It also regulates methylation. Low blood levels of folate are linked to certain forms of cancer; therefore, deficiencies make individuals more prone to these forms of cancer.


Folate-rich diets have been shown to reduce the risk of certain forms of cancer in research studies. It is important to note that an excess in high amounts, can speed up the formation of tumor growth, so it is important to ensure a healthy balance is struck when choosing a folate supplement, and foods you consume in your diet.


3.       Enhance memory –

Low folate levels are linked to symptoms of cognitive decline. Therefore, this, and other B-vitamins, when taken at the proper dosage levels, are shown to help improve overall cognitive abilities. Degeneration of the cerebral cortex is also linked to low levels of folate in the body. Homocysteine levels which aren’t converted are likely a cause of this.


4.       Producing red blood cells –

Folate is essential for red blood cells to produce. For cell replication and division to occur, folate and other b-vitamins, must be present at proper dosage levels in the body. Therefore, if it is not present, megaloblastic anemia, which is a condition where fewer and large blood cells are present in the body, is likely to occur.


5.       Cure depression –

Folate is known to be an all-natural anti-depressant. It not only helps to calm you, it synthesizes serotonin and dopamine levels, both which are known to help reduce the causes behind depression in most sufferers. By increasing the “feel good” transmitters, not only are you less likely to suffer from depression, and the symptoms which come along with it, but you are going to experience less stress as well.


Hearing and vision loss may be prevented when incorporating the proper levels of B9 into the diet as well. It helps with age-related macular degeneration. It can also help in treating some of the conditions which are commonly tied to aging. From hair and skin health, to naturally restoring a more jovial appearance, folate can serve as a natural anti-aging supplement when taken with other supplements in the family.


Healthy immune system function and metabolism function are also achieved with the proper levels of folate. Like the other vitamins in the B-family, folate is essential for the body to break down, synthesize, and to metabolize the foods we consume. Without it, the body can’t break down and give the body the energy it needs throughout the day.


Deficiencies of Folate (Vitamin B9)

Like other deficiencies, a supplement is generally a good way to help treating and preventing a deficiency in levels of folate in the system. Because it is water-soluble, it does not remain in the system, so you can’t “store it over” for the next day. If it is not readily absorbed by the blood stream, it is lost. Therefore, it is advised to take smaller dosage levels daily when consuming folate, rather than a single supplement during the course of a week to get the proper dosage levels.


A deficiency in this vitamin can lead to many severe consequences if it is not remedied in a timely fashion. Issues like hearing loss, creating more red blood cells (and larger cells), birth defects, impotence, and conditions like cleft lip or autism in children (where mothers are deficient) are some of the major consequences which can result from deficiencies.


Because it is so easy to treat a deficiency, it is important to do so quickly. Whether through diet, or the use of a supplement, it is best to discuss with your doctor what the best approach to treating the deficiency would be. And, if you are currently taking other medications, supplements, or prescriptions, it is important to discuss this with your doctor before you consume the folate supplement.


Not only so you can determine the proper dosage levels, but also to avoid overdosing other B-family vitamins, since they are also present in folate supplements. Including a multivitamin into your diet is also a simple way to increase folate levels as they are typically found in these vitamins.


There are many supplements you can choose from, so it is important to note not all are created equally. In fact, some are full of fillers and byproducts. It is important to understand use, how it will affect your body, and possible complications which can occur if you do not choose the right supplement. Speaking to your doctor, or getting a prescription directly with a specialist is the best way to ensure you are taking the right dosage, and a supplement which is going to promote the benefits it promises to.


Who should take the supplement?

If you are pregnant or nursing, it is a good idea to consider inclusion of a folate or B9 supplement into your diet. Not only will this help in the prevention of certain birth defects, it can also help promote a healthier, more viable pregnancy. And, it is known to help increase fertility rates, so if you are planning to have more children in the future, the inclusion of the supplement might also benefit you in the future.


If you suffer from deficiencies in other B-family vitamins, you might also benefit from the use of a supplement. Because you are not getting sufficient sources from your food and dietary choices alone, a supplement is often the best solution to treat these deficiencies. It is easy, effective, and it is typically going to help cure the deficiencies and symptoms you are suffering from, nearly instantly after you begin to incorporate the supplement into your diet.


If you are on a highly restrictive diet, where you can’t consume certain foods which are rich in the vitamin, you may benefit from a supplement as well. It will allow you to get the same benefits you would from food, in a simple, singular source, since you are not getting it from your diet alone.


As is the case with the other B-vitamins, it is best to get the source directly from foods you consume if possible. It is more easily and readily absorbed into the blood stream, it works through the system faster, and it will instantly promote the benefits which are detailed above. However, if you don’t get the right levels via the foods you consume, then a supplement, which is prescribed by your doctor, might be the best alternative to ensure you are getting the proper levels and dosage of folate in your diet daily.


Foods that contain Folate (Vitamin B9)

If you plan on getting your source of B9 from your diet, there are several foods which are rich in folate. These include:

-          Berries.

-          Vegetables, including leafy-greens.

-          Beetroots and turnips.

-          Soya beans.

-          Asparagus.

-          Mustard greens.

Folate is found in “green” vegetables in high volumes. Therefore, a small amount consumed on a daily basis is more than sufficient for most grown adults, whether you are simply trying to get enough in your diet, or trying to cure a deficiency.


Other common sources which contain folate include beef liver, yeast, whole grains, salmon, wheat, kidney beans, whole pulses, lima beans, avocado, milk, and orange juice. Getting the daily recommended dosage from your diet, and a combination of these foods, is the healthiest approach to ensuring you aren’t deficient in the vitamin.


When consuming foods which are rich in other B-family vitamins, it is also important to note that many of them are also rich in folate levels. So, consider this when determining proper dosage levels, how much to consume, and at what frequencies you are going to consume these foods (especially if done in conjunction with a supplement), in achieving the proper dosage levels in your diet daily.


Prolonged deficiency of Folate (Vitamin B9)

If a folate deficiency is not cured in a short period of time, it can lead to severe, and permanent issues. Among the concerns for those who are deficient, and do not remedy this include:

-          Osteoporosis and bone deterioration.

-          Anemia.

-          Chronic fatigue and pain.

-          High blood pressure.

-          Alzheimer’s and other memory loss/cognitive degeneration.

-          Bowel, rectum, or cervix cancer.

Of course, these are the most severe problems which can occur if a deficiency is not treated in a timely fashion. It is best to discuss use, and to learn how to properly remedy the deficiency you suffer from with your doctor.


In addition to providing you the proper methods for curing a deficiency, a doctor can properly prescribe a supplement which is also rich in other B-vitamins. This will in turn allow you to treat those deficiencies as well, to prevent further complications, or health risks, which are permanent if not cured shortly after the deficiency is discovered.


Dosage of Folate (Vitamin B9)

This is the recommended dosage for B9 vitamin supplements. For children 0-12 months, 80 mcg is the highest recommended dosage. Children 1-8 should take up to 200 mcg daily. Children 9-14 shouldn’t exceed 400 mcg daily. For adults who are 19 and older, up to 400 mcg daily is a healthy dosage levels. And for mothers who are lactating, pregnant, or nursing, the recommended dosage is between 500 to 600 mcg daily.


These levels are the high-recommended daily values. It is important to note your doctor might prescribe higher/lower levels, based on your diet, health risks, complications, and other medications or prescriptions you are currently taking. It is also important to note there are some complications which can ensue if the vitamin adversely interferes with other medications. So, prior to use, it is best for you to discuss with your doctor if it is safe for you to take folate, as well as other B-vitamins you might be deficient in.


Other considerations when taking Folate (Vitamin B9) Supplements

If you are healthy, if you suffer from certain conditions, if you are taking other medications, or if you have family-health risks that might adversely interact or interfere with the B9 supplement you plan on taking, it should be discussed with a doctor prior to starting the dosage cycle. It should also be noted that some people will suffer allergic reactions or can’t take the supplement or other health reasons. Not only will your doctor discuss the possible complications with you but can also help you choose the best supplement for use. They can discuss the benefits, risks, and how to properly supplement, given your health and family history, and other medications you are presently taking.



If you suffer from certain ailments or injuries a doctor might forego prescribing the supplement to you as well. Regardless of the level of your deficiency, or which other deficiencies you want to remedy, there are many B-family supplements you can take. When choosing a folate supplement, there are several factors which should be taken into consideration. These are some of those important factors, and methods in which you can go about choosing the right supplement for you, and the best overall approach for you to go about treating a folate deficiency which is found in your diet.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your physician about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Nu Image Medical may not offer the medications or services mentioned in this article.