The 7 Best Folate Supplements of 2023, According to a Dietitian

Doctor’s Best Fully Active Folate is third-party tested and in methylfolate form

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Best Folate Supplements

Verywell Fit / Kristin Kempa

Folate, also known as vitamin B9, is a water-soluble vitamin found naturally in foods such as dark leafy greens, beans, nuts, and peas. It is needed to make deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA) and helps produce healthy red blood cells. “Folate may also play a role in heart health, protein metabolism, and a role in depression risk,” says registered dietitian, Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LDN, CLEC, CPT. Most people get enough folate from food, but some populations, including women of childbearing age and pregnant people, those with alcohol use disorder, people with digestive conditions that impair absorption (e.g. celiac disease), and those with genetic conditions that prevent folic acid from being converted to methylfolate are at risk for folate deficiency and may benefit from folate supplementation.

Folate reduces the risk of neural tube defects (NTDs), including spina bifida and anencephaly, so it’s important that pregnant people and those of reproductive age take folate supplements. Folate supplements either contain the synthetic form of folate, folic acid, or the active forms, methylfolate or folinic acid. Methylfolate might be listed on a supplement label as L-5-MTHF, 5-methyl-folate, L-methylfolate, or 5-MTHF. Some foods, such as breads, pastas, and cereals, are fortified with folic acid. Foods that naturally have folate contain the active form, methylfolate. “In order for the body to be able to use folic acid, it needs to be converted to the active form of folate, methylfolate,” says Manaker. 

To compile our best folate supplements list, our dietitian analyzed the latest research on the forms and dose of folate, spoke with trusted experts in the field, examined supplements on the market for evidence-based forms and doses, and prioritized third-party tested products. 

Verywell Fit Approved Folate Supplements

  • Best Overall: Doctor’s Best Fully Active Folate is a vegan third-party tested folate supplement that delivers the active form of folate, 5-MTHF.
  • Best Prenatal: FullWell Prenatal Multivitamin contains the active forms of folate, 5-MTHF, folinic acid. As a bonus, it also provides choline, magnesium, calcium, and 4,000 IU of vitamin D to support fertility and a healthy pregnancy. 

Always speak with a healthcare professional before adding a supplement to your routine, to ensure that the supplement is appropriate for your individual needs and which dosage to take.

Is a Folate Supplement Beneficial?

Most people get enough folate from food, so it is rare to have a folate deficiency. However, taking a folate supplement is beneficial, and even recommended, for some populations. 

The following types of people would benefit from taking a folate supplement:

People of childbearing age. Half of pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, and most people don’t find out they are pregnant until the neural tube has already been formed. Therefore, having adequate folate before becoming pregnant is crucial. The CDC recommends that women of reproductive age take 400 micrograms (mcg) per day of folic acid, in addition to any folate from food, to reduce the risk of neural tube defects. Some healthcare providers recommend taking methylfolate instead of folic acid since it doesn’t have to be converted in the body. Check with a healthcare professional to determine which is best for you.

Pregnant people. Folate needs increase in pregnancy from 400 mcg of folic acid per day to 600 mcg/day. If you are planning to become pregnant or are already pregnant, it is recommended to take a prenatal vitamin with 600 mcg of folic acid starting at least one month before becoming pregnant.

If you have a genetic condition that prevents folic acid from being converted to the active form of folate, your provider might recommend you take a supplement with methylfolate, even though the CDC recommends folic acid. Even if you don’t have a genetic condition that interferes with folate, some providers still recommend methylfolate over folic acid. This is because recent research shows that more people than originally thought may have difficulty converting folic acid to methylfolate, and unmetabolized folic acid in the body may carry some risks.

People with alcohol use disorder. Alcohol interferes with folate absorption, and people with alcohol use disorder might consume a diet low in folate. 

People with malabsorptive disorders. Digestive conditions like celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease can reduce the absorption of folate. A healthcare provider can give further guidance if a folate supplement would be helpful if you have one of these conditions.

People with MTHFR gene variants. Some people have a genetic variant of the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) gene and cannot fully convert folic acid into the active form of folate, 5-MTHF. Taking a folate supplement with methylfolate may be better than taking folic acid for this population.

Note that research is ongoing for the best folate supplement form for this population. The CDC still recommends taking 400 mcg of folic acid, not 5-MTHFR. However, some healthcare providers disagree, and emerging research shows that 5-MTHF may be superior.

People with depression. Studies show that supplements with methylfolate can help improve symptoms in people with depression, in both those who take antidepressants and those who don’t take antidepressants.

People Who May Not Benefit From Folate Supplements

The following groups of people may not benefit from a folate supplement: 

Those who eat a well-balanced diet. Folate is found naturally in many foods including dark leafy greens, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, oranges, orange juice, nuts, beans, and peas. Most breads, cereals, and pastas are also fortified with folic acid. If you eat a variety of foods and don’t have health conditions that interfere with folate absorption, you may not benefit from a folate supplement.

Are taking medication that interferes with folate. Talk to your healthcare provider before taking folic acid if you are taking other medications. Folate supplements can interfere with methotrexate, a medication to treat cancer, as well as some anti-seizure medications. “Diuretics, NSAIDs, and immunosuppressants also interfere with folate metabolism,” says Barmmer.

Best Overall

Doctor’s Best Fully Active Folate

Doctor’s Best Fully Active Folate

Amazon

Pros
  • 400 mcg of active form of folate

  • Third-party tested

  • Vegan

  • Budget-friendly

Cons
  • Dose not high enough for pregnancy and lactation

Doctor’s Best Fully Active Folate is our top pick for a folate supplement for people who are not pregnant. It does not contain enough folate or all of the nutrients required in pregnancy, but for other people, it’s a great option. Doctor’s Best delivers 400 mcg DFE of the metabolically active form of folate, and (6S)-5-Methyltetrahydrofolic acid which is a form of folate that can be immediately used by the body. It also has 40 mg of vitamin C which is added for stability.

In addition to being affordable, we appreciate that Doctor’s Best is third-party tested for ingredient amounts and contaminants. Doctor’s Best Fully Active Folate is gluten-free, non-GMO, and suitable for vegans. 

Folate and vitamin B12 work together to make new blood cells. However, taking too much folate can hide a vitamin B12 deficiency. The folate can correct anemia from lack of B12 but not the underlying nerve damage from being deficient in B12 long term. Therefore, if you are vegan and taking folate, make sure you get adequate vitamin B12 from foods or take a B12 supplement.

Price at time of publication: $14 ($0.16 per serving)

Form: capsule | Type: (6S)-5-Methyltetrahydrofolic acid (5-MTHF) | Dose: 400 mcg DFE of 5-MTHF | Third-Party Certified: Yes | Servings Per Container: 90

Best Prenatal

FullWell Prenatal Multivitamin

FullWell Prenatal Multivitamin

FullWell

Pros
  • Provides folate in the active forms

  • Provides other nutrients needed for pregnancy

  • Capsules can be open and mixed into smoothies

Cons
  • Large serving size of 8 capsules per day

  • Expensive

FullWell Prenatal Multivitamin was carefully crafted with the most recent research on the best forms of folate for fertility and pregnancy. The end result is this prenatal vitamin that has evidence-based forms and doses of folate along with other nutrients needed during pregnancy. 

It’s crucial to get enough folate before becoming pregnant to reduce the risk of NTDs. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) strongly recommends taking folic acid if you are pregnant. However, emerging research suggests that taking methylfolate is better than taking folic acid. “Roughly half of the population has an impaired ability to use folic acid,” says Ayla Barmmer, MS, RD, LDN, registered dietitian and founder of FullWell prenatal supplement.

FullWell contains the active forms of folate, L-5-methyl-tetrahydrofolate calcium and calcium folinate (folinic acid), the same types found in food. Folic acid is found in many prenatal supplements, but folic acid has to be converted to folate in the body, and some people lack the enzyme to do this. Others may have digestive conditions that prevent folate from being fully absorbed or take medication that interferes with folate absorption.

“Methylfolate is the best choice as it is more bioavailable and well tolerated, regardless of your genetics (re: MTHFR) and stage of life,” says Barmmer. 

In addition to delivering 1,360 mcg DFE (800 mcg) of folate, FullWell also has the active form of vitamin B12, magnesium, choline, and calcium to support a healthy pregnancy. Note FullWell Prenatal Multivitamin purposefully does not have iron or omega-3 fatty acids. These nutrients are important for pregnancy, so check with a healthcare provider for what is best for your prenatal needs.

The main downside to FullWell is that the serving size is eight capsules per day. However, they can be opened up and mixed into smoothies or other cold beverages to make it easier to take. FullWell is third party-tested and uses Non-GMO ingredients. This supplement can be purchased one time or as an auto-renewing subscription service.

Price at time of publication: $50 ($1.67 per serving) for one time purchase

Form: Capsule | Type: L-5-Methyltetrahydrofolate Calcium & Calcium Folinate (5-MTHF and folinic acid) | Dose: 1,360 mcg DFE (800 mcg) | Third-Party Certified: Yes | Servings Per Container: 30

Best Folic Acid

NatureMade Folic Acid 400mcg Tablets

Nature Made Folic Acid

Amazon

Pros
  • USP verified

  • Gluten free, no artificial colors or preservatives

  • Easy to swallow

  • Budget-friendly

Cons
  • Not be suitable for people who can’t metabolize folic acid

  • Dose not high enough for pregnancy and lactation

We love that Nature Made Folic Acid is USP verified, which means it’s third-party tested for ingredients and doesn’t have harmful levels of contaminants. The small, easy-to-swallow tablets deliver 400 mcg of folic acid—the daily recommended amount for adults. However, note this dose is not high enough for pregnancy and lactation needs. 

There are 250 tablets in this budget-friendly bottle of Nature Made Folic Acid, which will last you eight months. Nature Made Folic Acid is gluten-free and doesn’t contain any artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.

Price at time of publication: $7 ($0.03 per serving)

Form: Tablet | Type: Folic acid | Dose: 665 mcg DFE (400 mcg folic acid) | Third-Party Certified: Yes | Servings Per Container: 250 

Best B Complex

Kirkland Signature Super B-Complex with Electrolytes

Kirkland Signature Super B-Complex with Electrolytes

Amazon

Pros
  • USP verified

  • Provides all B vitamins

  • Budget-friendly

Cons
  • May not be suitable for people who can’t metabolize folic acid 

  • Dose not high enough for pregnancy and lactation

All the B vitamins play a role in energy metabolism, memory, and mood. A B-complex supplement provides all the B vitamins including folate. A healthcare professional may recommend a B-complex for those with a limited diet, older adults, those with certain gastrointestinal disorders, or recovering from bariatric surgery. 

If a B-complex has been recommended for you, we suggest Kirkland Signature Super B-Complex with Electrolytes. Each bottle has 500 tablets which will last as a folate (and all B vitamins) supplement for years. In addition to being a supplement you don’t often have to refill, we like that it is USP verified—one of our recommended third-party testing organizations.

Kirkland Signature Super B-Complex delivers not only 400 mcg of folic acid—the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for adults—but has the other B vitamins including thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, biotin, and pantothenic acid. It also provides 333% Daily Value of vitamin C and low amounts of electrolytes sodium and potassium.

Note this folate supplement is not a good fit for those who can’t metabolize folic acid or high enough for pregnant and lactation needs.

Price at time of publication: $21 ($0.04 per serving)

Form: Tablet | Type: Folic acid | Dose: 666 mcg DFE (400 mcg folic acid) | Third-Party Certified: Yes | Servings Per Container: 500

Best Easy to Swallow

NOW Folic Acid

NOW Folic Acid

Amazon

Pros
  • Tablet size less than one centimeter

  • Vegan, kosher, free from common food allergens

  • Budget-friendly

  • Also contains vitamin B12

Cons
  • Not suitable for people who can’t metabolize folic acid

If you don’t like swallowing big pills, NOW’s Folic Acid supplement is for you. It’s less than one centimeter in size making it easy to take, and it is an inexpensive folate option. One tablet has 800 mcg of folic acid, which is twice the RDA but less than the upper limit of 1,000 mcg/day. 

NOW Folic Acid also has 25 mcg (1,042% daily value) of vitamin B-12 as cyanocobalamin. It can especially be important for those following a vegan diet to take B12 along with folate, as folate supplements could hide a vitamin B12 deficiency.

We appreciate that NOW conducts comprehensive in-house testing on the safety, purity, and quality of their supplements, and that this supplement fits a variety of dietary needs. It is vegan, free of common food allergens, kosher, halal, and non-GMO. However, it is not a good fit for those who can’t metabolize folic acid.

Price at time of publication: $6 ($0.03/serving)

Form: Tablet | Type: Folic acid | Dose: 1,360 mcg DFE (800 mcg folic acid) | Third-Party Certified: No | Servings Per Container: 250

Best Folate with B12

Pure Encapsulations B12 Folate

 Pure Encapsulations B12 Folate

Amazon

Pros
  • Contains active forms of folate & B12

  • Free of common food allergens and vegan

Cons
  • Not third-party certified

Pure Encapsulations B12 and Folate contains the active forms of folate and vitamin B12. It has 1,333 mcg DFE (800 mcg L-5-MTHF) of methylfolate and 800 mcg of vitamin B12 as methylcobalamin. 

Folate and B12 together support healthy blood cells and energy metabolism. Taking too much folate can mask a vitamin B12 deficiency. This folate and B12 combo helps ensure you get enough B12 along with folate. Pure Encapsulation B12 and folate is vegan, making it a good option for those who consume a plant-based diet with a higher risk for vitamin B12 deficiency. This is because vitamin B12 is found naturally in animal products.

While they aren’t certified by one of our preferred third-party organizations, Pure Encapsulation’s ingredients are tested for identity, potency, contaminants, metals, and allergens. Pure Encapsulations B12 and Folate supplement is suitable for gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, non-GMO, and vegan diets.

Folate and vitamin B12 work together to make new red blood cells. A deficiency in folate or vitamin B12 can cause megaloblastic anemia. This is a condition when the body produces abnormally large blood cells that don’t function properly. Adequate intake of both vitamin B12 and folate help prevent deficiency and avoid masking a B12 deficiency.  

Price at time of publication: $19 ($0.32 per capsule)

Form: Capsule | Type: L-5-MTHF | Dose: 1,333 mcg DFE (800 mcg L-5-MTHF) | Third-Party Certified: No | Servings Per Container: 60

Best Multivitamin with Folate

Thorne Basic Nutrients 2/Day

Thorne Research Basic Nutrients 2/Day

Thorne

Pros
  • Contains the active form of folate

  • Contains the active form of vitamin B12

  • NSF Certified for Sport

Cons
  • Expensive 

  • Does not contain all nutrients

While most multivitamins have folic acid, we like that Thorne Basic Nutrients 2/Day is a multivitamin with the active form of folate, 5-MTHF. Along with methylfolate, Thorne provides 600 mcg of vitamin B12 as methylcobalamin—the active form of vitamin B12 naturally found in food. 

Thorne is a reputable supplement brand and is NSF Certified for Sport meaning it is third-party tested for label ingredients, amounts, contaminants, and prohibited substances in athletics. Thorne Basic Nutrients 2/Day is free of gluten, dairy, soy, and artificial flavors.  

Note that the recommended serving is two capsules per day. This multi is a good source of most vitamins and minerals, but note it does not have iron and is low in calcium. A healthcare professional can help determine if this multi is best for your individual needs.

Price at time of publication: $30 ($1 per serving)

Form: Capsule | Type: 5-MTHF | Dose: 400 mcg as 5-MTHF | Third-Party Certified: Yes | Servings Per Container: 30 

How We Select Supplements

Our team works hard to be transparent about why we recommend certain supplements; you can read more about our dietary supplement methodology here

We support supplements that are evidence-based and rooted in science. We value certain product attributes that we find to be associated with the highest quality products. We prioritize products that are third-party tested and certified by one of three independent, third party certifiers: USP, NSF, or ConsumerLab.com. 

It's important to note that the FDA does not review dietary supplements for safety and effectiveness before they go to market. Our team of experts has created a detailed, science-backed methodology to choose the supplements we recommend.

What to Look For in Folate Supplements

Third-Party Testing

Supplements that are third-party tested are sent to a lab where they are tested to ensure they contain what they say they contain and are not contaminated with specific high-risk, common contaminants. However, it’s important to note:

  • Third party testing does not test to see if a product is effective or safe for everyone, and it does not ensure the supplement will not interact with other supplements or medications.
  • Not all third-party testing is created equal. It is not uncommon for supplement companies to pay labs for certificates after conducting minimal to no testing. 
  • The third party certifications we can trust are: ConsumerLab.com, NSF, and USP. However, these certifications are difficult to obtain and/or expensive for manufacturers, so many companies choose not to get their products tested by one of these three organizations. 
  • Sometimes products tested by these three companies are more expensive to try to offset the cost they pay for certification.
  • Just because a supplement is not tested by one of these three companies, it does not mean it’s a bad product. We recommend doing some research on the reputability of the manufacturer, and calling up the manufacturer and their testing lab to determine their protocols and decide if you feel comfortable consuming the supplement.

Form

Folate is the general term used to describe the various forms of vitamin B9. Folate is found naturally in foods like spinach, beans, nuts, and peas. 

Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate used in supplements and fortified foods, like bread, because it is more heat-stable than folate. Folic acid—from supplements and fortified foods—has been proven to reduce NTDs.

Methylfolate (also called L-5-MTHF, 5-methyl-folate, L-methylfolate, or 5-MTHF) and folinic acid are in some folate supplements. These are the active forms of folate found naturally in foods. Folic acid is converted to 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF) in the liver.

The general population can get enough folate from foods where folate occurs naturally, as well as foods fortified with folic acid. However, women of childbearing age cannot get enough folate from these sources to prevent NTDs, so it is recommended that people who could become pregnant take a folate supplement.

The CDC recommends taking folic acid. However emerging research shows that taking the active form of folate, 5-MTHF, may be better for most people. A healthcare provider can give further guidance which form is best for you.

Ingredients & Potential Interactions

It is essential to carefully read the ingredient list and nutrition facts panel of a supplement to know which ingredients and how much of each ingredient is included, relative to the recommended daily value of that ingredient. Please bring the supplement label to a healthcare provider to review the different ingredients contained in the supplement and any potential interactions between these ingredients and other supplements and medications you are taking.

Folate supplements can interact with several medications including methotrexate, sulfasalazine, anti-seizure medications, immunosuppressants, NSAIDs, barbiturates, diuretics, and pyrimethamine (an anti-malarial drug). Check with your healthcare provider before taking folate supplements especially if you’re taking other medications. 

Folate Dosage

The Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for folate are measured in micrograms (mcg) of dietary folate equivalents (DFEs), which account for the different absorption rates of folate from food versus folic acid.

According to the National Institutes of Health, the RDAs for folate are as follows: 

  • Birth-6 months: 65 mcg DFE for men and women
  • 7-12 months: 80 mcg DFE for men and women
  • 1-3 years: 150 mcg DFE for men and women
  • 4-8 years: 200 mcg DFE for men and women
  • 9-13 years: 300 mcg DFE for men and women
  • 14-18 years: 400 mcg DFE for men and women
  • 19+ years: 400 mcg DFE for men and women
  • Pregnancy: 600 mcg DFE for teens and adults
  • Lactation: 500 mcg DFE for teens and adults

Always speak with a healthcare professional before adding a supplement to your routine to ensure that the supplement is appropriate for your individual needs and to understand which dosage to take.

How Much is Too Much?

Taking too much folate from supplements or fortified foods can hide a vitamin B12 deficiency. Being deficient in vitamin B12 can lead to permanent brain and nerve damage. Taking too much folic acid may also increase the risk of some cancers, although more research is needed.


A Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL), which refers to the maximum daily amount that can be taken without adverse effects, for folate from supplements or fortified foods is as follows:

  • Birth-6 months: not established
  • 7-12 months: not established
  • 1-3 years: 300 mcg for men and women
  • 4-8 years: 400 mcg for men and women
  • 9-13 years: 600 mcg for men and women
  • 14-18 years: 800 mcg for men and women
  • 19+ years: 1,000 mcg for men and women
  • Pregnancy: 14-18 years - 800 mcg, 19+ - 1,000 mcg
  • Lactation: 14-18 years - 800 mcg, 19+ - 1,000 mcg

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the best form of folate to take?

    Getting folate from food is best unless you have higher needs such as during pre-conception and pregnancy. If taking a supplement, Barmmer says, “Methylfolate is the best choice as it is more bioavailable and well tolerated, regardless of your genetics (re: MTHFR) and stage of life. 

    Brammer adds, “The active folate form is also preferential if taking medications that interfere with folate metabolism, like NSAIDs, diuretics, or immunosuppressants. Roughly half of the population has an impaired ability to use folic acid, so this is a much bigger issue than a lot of people realize.”

    It’s worth noting that the CDC recommends taking folic acid, not methylfolate. Check with your healthcare provider for what form of folate would be best for you.

  • Is it better to take folate or folic acid?

    “Choosing between folate and folic acid depends on a person's unique needs,” says Manaker. The CDC recommends that those who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant take folic acid. However, many experts recommend taking folate in the active form, 5-MTHF. 

    “We don't know how many people have the MTHFR gene mutation, not everyone gets this (sometimes very expensive) test. It's likely more people than what may have initially been estimated. It doesn't hurt anyone and can really help some people to use the methylated form,” says Willow Jarosh, MS, RD, registered dietitian. 

    Prenatal dietitian, Kristin Brown, RD, agrees, “There is some concern as to whether or not everyone can adequately convert folic acid into folate due to a mutation in the MTHFR gene. And for that reason I often recommend taking folate in the methylated form.”

  • How much folate do you need a day?

    The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for folate is given in micrograms (mcg) of dietary folate equivalents (DFE), which accounts for the different absorption rates of folate from foods and folic acid. The RDA for adults is 400 mcg per day, for pregnant people is 600 mcg per day, and for lactating people is 500 mcg per day. 

    If taking methylfolate, Barmmer says, “800-1000 mcg daily of methylfolate and/or folinic acid is adequate for most. Some people may need more if they are very deficient or have poor absorption, for example those with IBD [inflammatory bowel disease] or celiac disease.” It’s okay to take a folate supplement every day, but you should not take more than 1,000 mcg of folic acid per day unless directed by a healthcare provider.

  • What should not be taken with folate?

    Folate supplements can interact with several medications including methotrexate, sulfasalazine, anti-seizure medications, immunosuppressants, NSAIDs, barbiturates, diuretics, and pyrimethamine (an anti-malarial drug). Check with your healthcare provider before taking folate supplements if you’re taking other medications.

  • How can I raise my folate levels quickly?

    “The best way to optimize your folate intake is to focus on the types of folate that your body can easily process. A diet rich in food folate alongside a high-quality multivitamin or prenatal vitamin that contains metabolically active forms of folate is critical (think foods high in folate like liver, legumes, split peas, and some dark leafy greens). 

    Methylfolate (5-MTHF) and folinic acid (5-formyl tetrahydrofolate) are both metabolically active forms to consider,” says Barmmer. Eating foods fortified with folic acid, such as bread, cereal, and pasta, as well as taking a folic acid supplement, can also raise folate levels quickly unless your body cannot convert folic acid to the active form of folate. Taking folic acid on an empty stomach may raise levels faster than consuming it with food.

  • What are the first symptoms of folate deficiency?

    One of the first symptoms of folate deficiency is extreme fatigue. Other symptoms include shortness of breath, dizziness, mouth sores, muscle weakness, lack of energy, and difficulty concentrating. If you have any of these symptoms, a healthcare professional can help determine the root cause of these symptoms.

    Folate deficiency in pregnancy can cause neural tube defects, including spina bifida and anencephaly.

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Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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