why you need folate for pregnancy

Folate vs. Folic Acid for Pregnancy

Why are Folate and Folic Acid So Important During Pregnancy?

One thing that you’ve probably been told by your healthcare provider as soon as you found out you were pregnant was to start taking your prenatal vitamin.

If you are even vaguely familiar with prenatals there are a few nutrients you probably know to look for such as folic acid and DHA.

But do you know the difference between synthetic and food-based vitamins?

Do you know which type of folate you need for your body to actually absorb the mineral to benefit your baby? Were you aware that some cheaper types of folic acid (which most prenatal vitamins contain) cannot even be absorbed by at least 40% of women?

Leaving your baby susceptible to suffering from life-altering neural tube defects?

In this article, you will learn the vital importance of taking folic acid during pregnancy, as well as the right form of the vitamin to be looking for in your prenatal vitamin to be sure that you can absorb and utilize it.

folic acid vs. folate for pregnancy

What is Folate and What Does it Do?

Folate is actually one of the B vitamins! You might know of B vitamins for being energy boosters. Folate is plant-derived vitamin B9. (Folic acid is the man-made version of folate.)

Children and adults need folate to create red blood cells within their bodies. It is an important nutrient to get enough of as to avoid anemia.

Why You Need Enough Folic Acid During Pregnancy.

During and prior to pregnancy it is paramount to consume enough folate. Not only is folate known to be important for the creation of red blood cells in baby, but it is also necessary for proper neural tube formation.

The neural tube is what becomes your baby’s brain and spinal cord. Formation of the neural tube begins early in pregnancy,  only 3 weeks after fertilization. This is also known as the 5th week of pregnancy and is when most women find out that they are pregnant!

If you are trying to conceive you should begin taking a prenatal vitamin NOW. It is one of the things you need to be doing if you are planning on conceiving. The first 2 weeks of neural tube formation come mostly from folate previously stored in the mother.

If you have just discovered that you are pregnant, it’s time to start taking a high quality food-based prenatal vitamin immediately to prevent neural tube defects (NTD) from occurring in your baby.

Later in the article, I will go over the best (and most affordable and convenient for the quality) prenatal vitamin that I take myself and highly recommend.

The Importance of Folate for Preventing Neural Tube Defects

NTDs are serious congenital malformations from a failure of the neural tube to close during early growth of your embryo from about 18-26 days after fertilization occurs. The most common NTD is known as spina bifida.

In a 2010 Cochrane review of folic acid, it was also found that folic acid is also beneficial in preventing problems in growth in utero such as a Cleft Palate.

It is estimated that 72% of all neural tube defects can be prevented by merely consuming enough folate during this time period.

How to Get Enough Folate During Pregnancy

prenatal vitamins with folate not folic acid

Humans cannot synthesize folate in the body. It MUST come from your diet which makes it an essential vitamin.

This is why many decades ago they began putting folic acid into our foods. Almost every cereal and bread that you buy has “folic acid” listed on the label. This addition to our diets was actually an attempt to lower the risk of neural tube defects in babies.

While many believe that adding folic acid into our foods has prevented many neural tube defects, recent studies lead us to believe otherwise.

So before we go any further, let’s break down the difference between folic acid and folate and why knowing what you’re taking for baby is vital!

What is the difference between folate and folic acid?

Folate is naturally occurring in nature in our foods. Folate is the natural form of vitamin B9. The word folate is derived from the Latin word meaning “leaf” because it is well-known to occur in dark leafy green vegetables.

While the terms folate and folic acid are often used interchangeably, they are actually quite different.

Folic acid refers to a synthetic man-made form of vitamin B9. It is used in lower quality vitamins and is enriched into many of our food products as well.

For many years it was thought that folic acid was much better absorbed than folate. It is true that natural folate is rather unstable and unfortunately a lot of it is lost in food preparation.

However, it has more recently been discovered that up to 40% of women cannot even absorb, metabolize, and utilize folic acid at all!

Most of the vitamin is not converted into the active form of folate that your body can use and instead enters your bloodstream as excess, which may potentially be harmful. Because folic acid is synthetic, it takes a long time for the body to metabolize it, if you can at all. (source)

Which means there’s a good chance none of the folic acid in your prenatal is even being metabolized to help prevent NTD!

So How Can You Absorb and Utilize Enough Folate During Pregnancy?

While I wish I could say that diet alone would provide enough folate to prevent neural tube defects, the amount of folate required per day for pregnancy is so high that a supplement is recommended in addition to consuming folate-rich foods.

Now that you know all the differences between folic acid and folate, as well as why you need to be looking for a form of folate instead of “folic acid” in your vitamin, you are prepared to make the best prenatal vitamin choice for your baby!

The Best and Most Affordable Prenatal with Real Folate + 11 Other Naturally Sourced Essential Vitamins

prenatal vitamins with folate for pregnancy

I hands down recommend Ritual Vitamins Essential Prenatal. It is what I am currently taking myself and for good reason!

This is the only vitamin that I’ve seen that actually breaks down each of its ingredients and their sources. Their transparency is refreshing and builds my confidence in their inclusion of optimal nutrients. They are open and honest and sourcing the best supplements for proper fetal development.

What is even better is Essential Prenatals don’t even cost much if any more than those crappy synthesized vitamins I picked up at Walmart for my first pregnancy. Ah if I only knew then what I know now.

AND another added bonus, they come right to your front door, so you never have to worry about running out.

What EXACTLY is in Essential Prenatals that Makes Them THE BEST

  1. Folate, 1665 mcg. Methylated 4th generation Folate sourced from Pisticci, Italy.
  2. Choline, 55mg. Nature-identical Choline sourced from Verona, Missouri. (It has recently been found that Choline is just as important for a developing fetus as Folate is!)
  3. Biotin, 300 mcg. USP-grade, active Biotin sourced from Bridgeport Connecticut.
  4. Iron, 18 mg. Gentle ferrous bisglycinate chelate sourced from Ogden, Utah.
  5. Vitamin B12, 8 mcg. Methylated B12 sourced from Bridgeport, Connecticut.
  6. Magnesium, 30mg. A chelated form of Magnesium sourced from Ogden, Utah.
  7. Omega-3, 300mg. Vegan DHA from microalgae sourced from Kingstree, South Carolina.
  8. Vitamin D3, 50 mcg. Vegan-certified D3 from lichen sourced from Nottingham, UK.
  9. Iodine, 150 mcg. USP-grade potassium iodine sourced from Ogden, Utah.
  10. Vitamin K2, 90 mcg. Pure, non-soy form of K2MK7 sourced from Oslo, Norway.
  11. Vitamin E, 7 mg. From mixed tocopherols sourced from Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  12. Boron, 1 mg. Food-form Boron sourced from Momence, Illinois.

Other Stellar Benefits of Essential Prenatals for Pregnancy

1. Every woman can fully absorb the folate in these vitamins to help prevent neural tube defects and grow the most healthy baby possible! Many prenatal vitamins are misleading you because there’s a good chance that you cannot even absorb and utilize the folic acid in them!

2. They come straight to your door every month! It is also really easy to snooze or rush your delivery with the touch of a button to be sure you have it when you need it. Hey, we all have a few days of forgetting to take our vitamins.

3. Essential Prenatals actually help to alleviate nausea. A lot of prenatal vitamins irritate your already sensitive preggo stomach. Essential prenatals come with a lemon-scented keep tab in the bottle that keeps the vitamins fresh and gives them a soothing scent for nauseous mommys-to-be.

4. They look really cool. Ok so maybe it’s not a nutritious benefit, however, I do love the see through capsules with another capsule inside. It makes taking vitamins more fun.

Ready to give Essential Prenatals a try now? You can pick them up right here and never have to worry about doing the absolute best you can for your baby nutritionally again.

cleaar prenatal vitamins sourced naturally

Wrapping Up Why Folate is Vitally Important to Consume During Pregnancy

Folate comes only from food and supplements, it cannot be synthesized in the human body. Folate is known to reduce the chance of NTD and other deformities such as cleft palate when taken in adequate amounts before and during pregnancy.

Folic acid is not folate. Many of us cannot properly absorb folic acid… not something you want to risk when planning a pregnancy or while pregnant!

If you are taking a prenatal be sure it has a form of actual folate on the label, even if you choose something beside Essential Prenatals.

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