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Why Are Iron and Folic Acid Taken Together?

Learn why iron is often taken alongside folic acid for individuals with low iron levels or iron deficiency.

Iron and folic acid are two important nutrients that are both commonly supplemented. They are often taken together for their synergistic benefits, particularly by people experiencing certain health conditions or during specific stages of life when requirements for these nutrients are higher.

Folic acid is required to support a number of important functions including DNA synthesis, red blood cell formation, and healthy foetal development during pregnancy.

Iron, on the other hand, is essential for oxygen transport in the blood, and to support energy production in the body at a cellular level.

While both nutrients are important for our health on their own, they also work in tandem to support several physiological processes in the body, particularly for people at risk of deficiencies or during periods of increased nutrient needs.

Let’s take a closer look at the importance of iron and folic acid supplementation, their combined benefits, and when and why they are often taken together.

Folate vs Folic Acid vs Vitamin B9

What Is Vitamin B9?

Vitamin B9 is a water-soluble vitamin that plays several important roles in supporting human health. It’s needed to support healthy foetal brain and spine development during early pregnancy and may help prevent certain birth defects.

Vitamin B9 is needed to support DNA synthesis, red blood cell formation, and cell division, and also helps support healthy immune system function.

What Is Folate?

Folate is a naturally occurring form of vitamin B9 found in foods such as leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, and legumes. It differs from folic acid in its chemical structure and how it is metabolised in the body.

What Is Folic Acid?

Folic acid is the synthetic form of vitamin B9 used in dietary supplements and fortified foods. It is more stable and bioavailable than folate, making it a preferred option for supplementation and food fortification. However, some individuals may have difficulty metabolising folic acid. These people would benefit from consuming natural sources of folate to meet their vitamin B9 needs.

Foods High In Vitamin B9

Natural sources of folate include leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, Swiss chard and romaine lettuce, as well as citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruits, and legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, and black beans.

Other folate-rich foods include avocado, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, beets, and asparagus.

Additionally, many grain products, such as bread, pasta, and breakfast cereals, which do not naturally contain folate are fortified with folic acid.

These fortified foods can be a good additional dietary source of the more bioavailable synthetic form of vitamin B9.

Explore Their Roles in The Body

Iron

Iron is an essential mineral that plays important roles in a number of physiological processes in the body. Perhaps most notably, it is a key component of haemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells responsible for transporting oxygen from the lungs to tissues throughout the body.

This oxygen transport is essential for cellular respiration, energy production, and the functioning of the body’s vital organs and tissues.

Iron is also involved in the synthesis of myoglobin, a protein found in muscle cells that facilitates oxygen storage and release during muscle contraction.

Additionally, iron is necessary for the production of certain enzymes involved in energy metabolism and immune function.

Folic Acid

As mentioned previously, folic acid is a synthetic version of vitamin B9, and is an important nutrient with several important roles in the body.

One of its primary functions is in DNA synthesis and repair, supporting the growth and division of cells.

Folic acid is particularly important during periods of rapid cell growth and development, such as throughout pregnancy and during infancy, as it supports foetal brain and spinal cord development.

Additionally, folic acid is involved in red blood cell formation and helps maintain healthy levels of homocysteine, an amino acid linked to heart health.

Furthermore, folic acid supports immune function, promotes healthy skin, and may play a role in supporting healthy cognitive function.

Iron And Folid Acid: Why Take Together?

Iron And Folic Acid Tablets

Combined iron and folic acid supplements offer a range of health benefits, particularly for those at risk of deficiency or with additional requirements for these nutrients.

Taking these supplements together can help prevent or alleviate iron deficiency, a common condition characterised by low levels of iron in the blood, which can lead to fatigue, weakness, and impaired immune function.

Additionally, folic acid supplementation before and during pregnancy can help reduce the risk of some birth tube defects and support healthy foetal development.

Combined iron and folic acid supplements may also help to improve energy levels, cognitive function, and help support overall wellbeing.

Iron And Folic Acid Delayed Release Capsules

One of the primary benefits of taking delayed release iron and folic acid supplements is improved gastrointestinal tolerability.

Delayed-release capsules are designed to release their contents gradually over time, which can help reduce the risk of gastrointestinal side effects such as nausea, constipation, and stomach upset, which are commonly associated with some traditional iron supplements.

By releasing the iron more slowly, delayed-release capsules allow for absorption in the intestines and may minimise any potential discomfort.

Additionally, delayed-release capsules can be taken less frequently than traditional supplements, as they provide a sustained release of nutrients over an extended period of time.

This convenience factor can improve compliance and adherence to supplementation regimens, especially for those who struggle with remembering to take multiple doses throughout the day.

Iron and folic acid delayed-release capsules offer a convenient and possibly a better tolerated option for meeting iron and folic acid needs while minimising potential side effects

See Fefol’s Delayed Release Capsules.