Folic acid is an important nutrient to consume before conception and throughout pregnancy. If you are thinking about becoming pregnant, adopting a healthy lifestyle and getting enough folic acid are among the most important things you can do to help prevent birth defects. Folic acid, a form of folate, plays a key role in supporting a baby’s healthy brain and spinal cord development as well as neural tube closure.1,2
The development and closure of a baby’s neural tube (which eventually becomes the spine) occurs between day 14 and day 28 of pregnancy.3 Folic acid levels impact neural tube closure and because this development occurs so early in pregnancy, a mom-to-be needs to make sure she is consuming an adequate amount of folic acid before conception. Expert recommendations like those from the Food and Drug Administration, American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and others state that pregnant women should consume at least 600 mcg to 800 mcg of folate daily during pregnancy.4-7 Taking prenatal vitamins one month prior to becoming pregnant can help build reserves and meet folic acid needs during your baby’s spinal development.
Folate: Natural Form of Folic Acid
Folate is a form of folic acid that occurs in nature. It is found in leafy green vegetables, beans, peas, and citrus fruit, just to name a few. However, folate becomes unstable and loses its health benefits when it’s not fresh or when foods are cooked.8 Because of this, many foods like cereal and breads are fortified with a more stable, synthetic form of folate called folic acid.
Folic Acid: Synthetic Form of Folate
Folic acid is a synthetic form of folate. Because of its health benefits and stable properties, it is often found in vitamin supplements, especially prenatal vitamins. However, synthetic folic acid cannot be used by the body directly.9 Once consumed, folic acid undergoes a series of chemical transformations to a more bioavailable, absorbable form. Unfortunately, approximately 40% to 70% of women in the United States have a common mutation that impairs how they well they metabolize folic acid to a form the body can absorb.10,11
L-methylfolate: Highly Absorbable Form of Folate
L-methylfolate and other so-called reduced folates, are a bioavailable form of folate, meaning they can be used and absorbed more directly by the body. L-methylfolate exhibits greater bioactivity than folic acid or folate, even for women who are burdened by the mutation that affects folic acid metabolism.2 This means that women who take L-methylfolate do not have to worry if they are among the 40% to 70% of women unable to effectively convert folic acid into a usable form.
Prenatal Vitamins with Folic Acid
The Prenate® Vitamin Family offers nutritional support for mothers and their babies for every step of pregnancy and after delivery. Prenate Pixie®, Prenate Mini®, Prenate® Enhance, Prenate® Restore, and Prenate Chewable® all provide 1,700 mcg DFE of folate, as a blend of 600 mcg of bioavailable L-methylfolate and 400 mcg of traditional folic acid.5
Below are links to learn more about the prenatal vitamins with folic acid that the Prenate® Vitamin Family offers:
Ask your doctor if a Prenate® Vitamin is right for you.