Folic Acid vs. Folate When Choosing Prenatal Vitamins

March 11, 2019 | Wellness Resources

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 Folic Acid vs. Folate When Choosing Prenatal Vitamins
Pregnant or planning to get pregnant in the near future? You’ve likely read or been told to increase your folic acid or folate as part of your prenatal vitamin regimen. Whether you are currently taking a prenatal vitamin or will be soon, it is important to know how folate and folic acid support you and your baby’s health, the differences between the two, and any possible problems that can arise.

Folate, Folic Acid and Vitamin B9 During Pregnancy

Both folate and folic acid are forms of Vitamin B9. These nutrients are crucial in supporting the healthy growth of DNA, healthy mood, red blood cells and functioning of many large organs, including the brain. For moms to be, it helps support the healthy growth of your precious baby, can aid in the prevention of birth defects, and strengthens the growth of both the placenta and the fetus – making these important ingredients top of the list when considering your prenatal vitamins.

Folate & Folic Acid – What’s the Difference?

The main difference between folate and folic acid that you’ll want to know is that one of them (folate) is natural to the body coming from folate-rich foods like green leafy vegetables, while the other (folic acid) is the synthetic form and artificially processed.

In addition to natural vs. synthetic, these nutrients differ in the way that they convert to the beneficial form your body needs. While folate (natural form) is much easier for the body to digest through the digestive system, folic acid (synthetic form) must first be metabolized in the liver before it is modified into the natural folate form.

So what does that mean? It means that a good amount of folic acid can be left unmetabolized in the body, causing build up and some unnecessary risk for your child that you should be aware of. Research in 2006 showed that 78% of postmenopausal women tested had elevated levels of oxidized folic acid in their blood. It is estimated that an intake of just 266 - 400 mcg a day of folic acid can lead to this build-up.

Concerns Surrounding Unmetabolized (Oxidized) Folic Acid

Because of the importance of folate for health, cereals and grain products have been mandatorily fortified with folic acid in the United States since 1998. There is, however, a growing concern that the fortification of foods with “folic acid” may not always be helpful. It’s not that vitamin B9 is a bad thing. The concern is getting too much synthetic folic acid from a combination of fortified foods and prenatal supplements..

Recent scientific studies have linked high levels of oxidized folic acid in pregnancy to the following:

• An increased risk of autism
• Lower cognitive development in preschool aged
• Increased change of children developing insulin resistance and obesity
• Cancers and seizure disorders
• Preterm delivery

Prenatal Vitamins with Folate

Both you and your baby need folate during pregnancy. The good news is that there are prenatal vitamins with natural folate, which the body prefers, causing it less stress and giving you peace of mind.

All Wellness Resources supplements with B9, including the Daily Prenatal Multivitamin, contain the natural folate in them, as well as vitamin B12 (B12 & Folate for Prenatal Health).

Wellness Resources takes it to the next level and uses a pre-methylated folate called Quatrefolic®. It is estimated that at least 25% to as much as 65 % of the population cannot properly covert folate to the methylated form (a process called methylation). Maybe you’ve heard of the MTHFR gene defect. Well, no need to worry about this when you take methylated folate. It’s the highest quality, advanced form of folate to supplement. This is especially important during pregnancy!

The recommended daily dose in the United States for folate is a minimum of 400 micrograms per day. For pregnancy it increases to at least 600 mcg and if breastfeeding it requires 500 mcg per day.

Folate is an important nutrient when considering your pregnancy. It aids in almost all the functions of our bodies. It supports red blood cell formation, healthy mood, digestion, blood pressure, blood flow, oxygen utilization and breathing, energy production, growth, brain health, sleep, and physical strength. Just be sure to get the right type of folate in your prenatal vitamin!

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