Your Guide to Folate & Folic Acid
January 13, 2016
Folic acid matters, and the type of folic acid matters too.
Folic acid is an important nutrient before conception and throughout pregnancy. For women thinking about becoming pregnant, adopting a healthy lifestyle and getting enough folic acid are among the most important things they can do to help prevent birth defects. Folic acid, a form of folate, plays a key role in supporting healthy brain and spinal cord development and also neural tube closure.1
A complete neural tube closure is needed for the spinal cord to develop properly. This closure occurs very early in the pregnancy, by 28 days post-conception.2 For this reason it is recommended that pregnant women consume 800 mcg (0.8 mg) of folate.3 Taking prenatal vitamins one month prior to becoming pregnant can help build reserves and meet folic acid needs during spinal development.
The Forms of Folic Acid & Their Properties
Folic acid is found in several different forms with different properties.
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 not fresh or when foods are cooked.7 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 man-made 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.4 Once consumed, folic acid undergoes a series of chemical transformations to a more bio-available, 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.5,6
L-methylfolate: Highly Absorbable form of Folate
L-methylfolate and other, so-called reduced folates, are a bio-available 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 that are burdened by the mutation that affects folic acid metabolism.5 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. The family of prenatal vitamins contains 1 mg of folate in each pill. Prenate Pixie®, Prenate Mini®, Prenate® Enhance, Prenate® Restore and Prenate® Chewable all provide 1 mg of folate, as a blend of 600 mcg of bioavailable L-methylfolate and 400 mcg of traditional folic acid.5 Start your pregnancy strong with robust a dose of key nutrients. Enjoy the benefits of prenatal vitamins that can help fill nutritional gaps from preconception to pregnancy and into postpartum. Ask your doctor if a Prenate® Vitamin is right for you. Click here to learn more about the Prenate® Vitamin Family.