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Folate Technical Details

 

Folate (Vitamin B9) is a water-soluble vitamin. It is important in cell division, and is important during pregnancy to prevent neural tube birth defects. Folate is also called Folacin.

 

Folate consists of naturally occurring food folate, and synthetic folic acid.

 

The body more easily absorbs folic acid than it does food folate. A unit called Dietary Folate Equivalents (DFE) is used to compare the activity of food folate and folic acid. 1 μg (microgram) of food folate is equivalent to 1 μg DFE. However, 1 μg of folic acid is equivalent to 1.7 DFE. The following table summarizes:

 

 

Nutrient

μg

μg DFE

Food Folate

1

1

Folic Acid

1

1.7

 

DFE Details

 

At the time of this writing (2004), the RDI (Reference Daily Intake) of Folate is 400 μg DFE.


Because the conversion from μg to μg DFE is different for food folate and folic acid, you cannot convert μg to DFE (or DFE to μg) for Total Folate unless you know the proportion of food folate to folic acid in the sample.

 

For example, knowing that you have 170 μg DFE of Total Folate is not enough information to determine how much food folate and folic acid you have. 170 μg DFE of Total Folate can come from 170 μg of food folate, or from 100 μg of folic acid, or from 85 μg food folate plus 50 μg folic acid, or from many other combinations of food folate and folic acid. The following table summarizes:

 

Sample Values

μg

Total μg DFE

170 μg Food Folate

170

170

100 μg Folic Acid

100

170

85 μg Food Folate + 50 μg Folic Acid

135

170

 

In general, if a food is naturally occurring and has not been enriched with folic acid, you can assume that all of the folate is food folate.

 

nutraCoster Details

 

Entering Food Folate or Folic Acid Values

 

When you enter μg for food folate or folic acid, nutraCoster automatically calculates the DFE and %RDI values for the nutrient.

 

When you enter DFE for food folate or folic acid, nutraCoster automatically calculates the μg and %RDI values for the nutrient.

 

When you enter %RDI for food folate or folic acid, nutraCoster automatically calculates the μg and DFE values for the nutrient.

 

When you change any of the values for food folate or folic acid, nutraCoster checks the Total Folate value. If the Total Folate value was the sum of the food folate and folic acid values before the change, nutraCoster recalculates the Total Folate value to be the sum of the new food folate and folic acid values.

 

If the Total Folate value was not the sum of the food folate and folic acid values before the change, nutraCoster does not update the Total Folate value.

 

Entering Total Folate Values

 

When you enter Total Folate values for μg, DFE or %RDI, nutraCoster cannot calculate the values for food folate or the folic acid unless it knows the proportions of food folate and folic acid (see the section DFE Details above for why this is so).

 

When you enter μg for Total Folate, nutraCoster checks to see if the Total Folate μg value was the sum of the food folate and folic acid μg values before the change. If so, nutraCoster recalculates the food folate and folic acid μg values so the sum of the values is equal to the new Total Folate μg value, while keeping the proportions the same

 

If nutraCoster recalculates the food folate and/or folic acid μg values as a result of a change to the Total Folate μg value, it will also recalculate the DFE and %RDI values for the food folate and folic acid.

 

Finally, nutraCoster will recalculate the DFE and %RDI values of Total Folate based on the new values for food folate and folic acid.

 

Example: Suppose you have 170 μg Total Folate, which is composed of 70 μg food folate and 100 μg folic acid. The following table lists the values for the example:

 

Nutrient

μg

μg DFE

%RDI

Total Folate

170

240

60%

Food Folate

70

70

18%

Folic Acid

100

170

43%

 

Now change the Total Folate to 255 μg. nutraCoster performs the following steps:

  1. Total Folate μg was the sum of the food folate and folic acid values, so nutraCoster increases food folate and folic acid proportionally to 105 μg and 150 μg.
  2. The new value of 105 μg for food folate converts to 105 DFE and 26 %RDI.
  3. The new value of 150 μg for folic acid converts to 255 DFE and 64 %RDI.
  4. Using the new DFE and %RDI values, Total Folate is now 360 DFE and 90 %RDI.
  5. The following table shows the results after the change:

 

Nutrient

μg

μg DFE

%RDI

Total Folate

255

360

90%

Food Folate

105

105

26%

Folic Acid

150

255

64%

 

nutraCoster performs a similar series of steps when you enter DFE or %RDI values for Total Folate.