Folate is a naturally occurring water soluble B vitamin found in many foods such as green vegetables, fruits, cereals, and dried beans. Folic acid is a man-made form of folate that come in some dietary supplements. Folate is essential for the body to produce and maintain new cells such as red blood cells. Folate also helps maintain normal levels of homocysteine. Elevated homocysteine levels have been associated with an increased risk of developing heart disease.
Folate has been studied for many uses including it's use in the prevention of cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and heart disease. One recent study evaluated the ability of high-dose folic acid to prevent damage to heart from a heart attack in test animals. The animals who received folic acid experienced smaller, less damaging heart attacks than the animals that did not. Studies examining the ability of folic acid to prevent heart attacks in humans have been conflicting. Additionally, high-dose folic acid supplementation has not been evaluated in humans. More studies are needed to evaluate the effectiveness of high-dose folic acid to reduce damage from heart attacks in humans.