March 15, 2021

Folate (B9)


Folate (B9) helps the body convert carbohydrates into energy (glucose) and use fats and protein needed for a healthy liver, skin, hair and eyes; it also helps the nervous system to function properly. Folate helps to form DNA and RNA and is involved in protein metabolism. Folate works closely with vitamin B12 to help make red blood cells and assist iron in functioning properly in the body (1). It has been shown that in settings of low folate and vitamin B12, anemia is likely to occur.

Folate cannot be synthesized directly from the body and must be obtained either from diet or supplementation. Alcohol consumption, MTHFR polymorphism, and malabsorptive disorders such inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and celiac disease can cause folate deficiency, resulting in loss of appetite, irritability, forgetfulness and mental sluggishness, among others (1)(2).

  1. “Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid).” Mount Sinai Health System,
  2. “Office of Dietary Supplements - FOLATE.” NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 11 Mar. 2020,



Some studies have found an association between low B9 levels and depression: researchers found that 15 to 38% of people with depression have low levels of folate, and those with very low levels tend to be the most depressed, and another study found that people who did not see improvements while taking antidepressants had low levels of folic acid (1).  A study with 127 patients experiencing major depression found a significant improvement in depressive symptoms of women who received 500mcg of B9 over a span of 10 weeks (2). 

GEM is not intended to treat depressive episodes. GEM contains 120mcg of B9, making up 30% of the recommended daily intake; enough to fill in the gaps and support a healthy lifestyle. 

  1. Coppen A, Bailey J. Enhancement of the antidepressant action of fluoxetine by folic acid: a randomised, placebo controlled trial. J Affect Disord 2000;60:121-30.
  2. Alpert JE, Mischoulon D, Nierenberg AA, Fava M. Nutrition and depression: focus on folate. Nutrition. 2000;16:544-581.


Heart Health & Cognitive Function:

Folate plays a key role in breaking down homocysteine and converting it to methionine, one of the building blocks necessary for the body to build new proteins. Insufficient intake of folate, B6 and B12 leads to elevated blood homocysteine levels (1). 

Early observations and studies beginning in 1968 around homocysteine (which results from protein breakdown in the body) indicated that those with high levels of this byproduct have an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, as well as poor cognitive function, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease*(1). 

*homocysteine can have a negative impact on cognitive function by diminishing blood flow to the brain and nerve cells
  1. Kilmer S. McCully, MD, Homocysteine, Vitamins, and Prevention of Vascular Disease, Military Medicine, Volume 169, Issue 4, April 2004, Pages 325–329,


Our folate is obtained from quinoa sprouts germinated with b-complex. During the germination process of the quinoa, the b-vitamins are incorporated into the quinoa seeds and available in their free form; they are also available in their biologically active form, allowing for proper absorption. 


What are signs of folate deficiency?

Folate is a necessary nutrient for producing red blood cells, and prolonged folate deficiency will result in anemia, a reduced blood cell count.  This disrupts aerobic pathways, leading to fatigue, breathlessness, feeling faint, headaches, heart palpitations, and changes in mood, among other symptoms.  Often a visible sign of folate deficiency is a pale yellow coloration of the skin.  If you think you might have folate deficiency, you should see your doctor for an official diagnosis.

What is the difference between folate and folic acid? 

One of the ways folate and folic acid differ is how they are digested and used in your body. Most dietary folate is converted into the biologically active form of B9 in your digestive system before it enters your bloodstream. This active form of B9 is called 5-MTHF. With folic acid though, not all of it can be converted to 5-MTHF in your digestive system. Your liver and other organs help when converting folic acid to the active form, resulting in a slower process. 

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