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Is Vitamin B12 the same as Folic Acid?

To put it simply; no, Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid (also known as Folate or Vitamin B9) are not the same.

Is Vitamin B12 the same as Folic Acid?

To put it simply; no, Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid (also known as Folate or Vitamin B9) are not the same. Whilst they are both B vitamins and are often discussed together due to their roles in various bodily functions, they are in fact distinct molecules with different functions in the body.

Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is essential for nerve function, DNA synthesis and red blood cell production. It plays an essential role in maintaining the health of the nervous system and in the formation of red blood cells.

Whereas Folic Acid (folate or Vitamin B9) is also important for DNA synthesis, cell division, and the formation of red blood cells, as a vitamin it's particularly crucial during pregnancy for fetal development and is often recommended to pregnant women from their first trimester.


What is Vitamin B12 good for?

Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is a crucial nutrient that plays several important roles in the body which include:

Red blood cell formation
Vitamin B12 aids the production of red blood cells in the bone marrow. It works along with folate (vitamin B9) in this process. Deficiency in vitamin B12 can lead to megaloblastic anaemia, where red blood cells are larger than normal and unable to function properly.

Neurological function
Vitamin B12 is involved in the maintenance of the nervous system including the protective covering of nerves and the function of our neurotransmitters. Deficiency in Vitamin B12 can lead to neurological symptoms such as tingling or numbness in the hands and feet, difficulty walking, memory problems and even irreversible nerve damage in severe cases.

DNA synthesis
Vitamin B12 is required for the synthesis of DNA, which is the genetic material in our cells. It works alongside other B vitamins, particularly folate, and our bodies need high enough Vitamin B12 levels for this cell function and growth.

Energy production
Vitamin B12 is involved in the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates, converting them into energy that our bodies then use as fuel.

Heart health
Some research suggests that Vitamin B12 may help reduce levels of homocysteine, an amino acid associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Vitamin B12, along with other B vitamins, helps convert homocysteine into other substances, potentially reducing its harmful effects on the cardiovascular system.

Vitamin B12 is primarily found in animal derived foods such as meat, fish, eggs and dairy products. Due to their diet, vegans and vegetarians may find they are at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency if they don't consume fortified foods or supplements.

What is Folic Acid good for?

Folic Acid or Folate, also known as Vitamin B9, plays several important roles in the body. These include:

  • DNA synthesis
    Folate is essential for the synthesis and repair of DNA, and folate is important for overall tissue growth and repair.
  • Red blood cell formation
    Like Vitamin B12, Folate also helps with the production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body to organs, muscles and our cells. Having adequate folate levels is also crucial for preventing anaemia, which is a condition from a low red blood cell count and has symptoms such as fatigue and weakness.
  • Neural tube formation
    During early pregnancy, folate is particularly important for the development of the neural tube in the foetus, which eventually forms the baby's brain and spinal cord in the early stages of growth. Taking enough folate intake before and during pregnancy can help prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly.
  • Homocysteine metabolism
    Folate, along with vitamins B6 and B12, helps to metabolise homocysteine, an amino acid that is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Taking folate can help to lessen the risk of this disease.

Overall, folate is essential for the proper functioning and growth of cells, particularly during periods of rapid cell division and growth, such as pregnancy and infancy. Our bodies can get this vitamin through a diet which has leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, beans and fortified grains. Additionally, folic acid supplements are commonly recommended for pregnant women to ensure adequate intake and support foetal health and maternal health from the first trimester.

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Should I take Vitamin B12 or Folic Acid?

Whether you should take Vitamin B12 or Folic Acid depends on your individual health needs and your diet. Whilst taking regularVegan Vitamins and Tablets and other supplements for health can be beneficial, it’s important to work out what’s right for you, and what your body needs.

You may consider taking Vitamin B12 supplements if you have a deficiency or if you are at risk of deficiency. Individuals at risk include vegetarians and vegans who may not get enough B12 from their diets, older adults who may have difficulty absorbing B12 from food due to decreased stomach acid production and individuals with certain medical conditions that affect B12 absorption. TakingVegan Vitamin B12 Tablets can help to stop Vitamin B12 deficiencies, and can be taken as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.

A Folic Acid supplementation or taking folate is often recommended for pregnant women to prevent neural tube defects in their babies and to aid foetal health from the first trimester. It's also important for women who are trying to conceive to start taking folic acid supplements before conception and continue throughout the early stages of pregnancy. Additionally, individuals with certain medical conditions that interfere with folate absorption might find taking folic acid useful.

If you're unsure whether you need to take supplements, it's best to speak to your GP or healthcare professional before starting as they can advise on whether this is right for you and discuss how this can affect your health.