Folate is a B vitamin naturally present in many foods. Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate used in supplements and fortified foods. Folic acid is more easily absorbed than folate.
Folate/folic acid is essential for making DNA and other genetic material, and for cell division. This is why it is so important during pregnancy, as it is are needed for the rapid growth and division of cells that occur in the growing fetus. All pregnant women, as well as those trying to conceive, should take folic acid supplements to reduce the risk of neural tube defects and other complications.