Folate: Sources, Production and Bioavailability


*Corresponding author
Institute of Chemical Technology, Food Engineering and Technology Department NM Parikh Marg, Matunga, Mumbai, 400 019, India


“Folate” is a generic term for forms of Vitamin B9 and their derivatives. Initially detected in brewer’s yeast and isolated from spinach, folates play a vital role in body functions like nucleic acid synthesis and RBC formation. Natural folates are preferable over synthetic forms since they have lesser side effects and are body-own forms; and also the metabolism of synthetic folic acid is very individual specific. Some physiological conditions like sickle cell disease and renal dialysis might increase cellular folate requirements. Folate deficiency must be treated considering its metabolic inter-relationships with vitamin B12 and choline. The present review focuses on natural and synthetic folate sources, microbial production and bioavailability.


Folates is an essential nutrition component (important B vitamin) in the human diet, involved in many metabolic pathways, mainly in carbon transfer reactions such as purine and pyrimidine biosynthesis and amino acid inter-conversions. Folates exist as vitamers (one carbon folate derivatives) that are ployglutamates with varying oxidation states and substituents (1). Folates are important as they synthesize neurotransmitters by depleting excess homocysteine from the blood, thereby benefiting cardio vascular disease patients (2). The major sources of folates are green leafy vegetables, liver, beans and legumes, egg yolk, wheat germ, yeast, and folate fortified breakfast cereal products.

Folates exist in two forms- Naturally occurring folates are found in foods and in metabolically active forms in the human body (3). The synthetic form of folic acid is the folate found in supplements and fortified foods. This is the more stable form and occurs rarely in foods or in the human body.

Fresh fruits, leafy green vegetables and legum ...