Gene expression can be regulated without changing the DNA sequence through what is called an 'epigenetic mechanism' that frequently involves 'methylation'. The attachment of a methyl group (-CH3) to one of the DNA building blocks (cytosine) stops the gene being read. These methyl groups come from choline, betaine, folate and vitamin B12.
The Vitamin B Team. B12 (cobalamin) B9 (Folate) B6 (pyridoxine) and choline are interconnected in what is called 'transmethylation metabolism'. Foods containing these essential nutrients make 'methyl groups' or single carbon units (-CH3) available for use in the methionine pathway - critical to DNA expression.
Folate was first isolated from spinach in 1941 and the scientists who purified this new vitamin decided to name it folic acid, from the Latin word for leaf, 'folium'. In 1943, other groups of researchers made the synthetic form which is now referred to as folic acid, which gets converted to the active folate in the body. Both are also known as Vitamin B9.
Folate and folic acid are not the same. Folate is what is found in nature and mainly in leafy vegetables. Folic acid is synthesized and is the form used in most supplements and for food fortification. It gets converted into folate in the body where it is active in many important biologic functions.