One of the most important things you should do is invest in a good prenatal vitamin. Ideally, a few months before conception but anytime is the right time to start. When looking for a good prenatal vitamin, you will see folate or methyl folate as an ingredient. However, some will contain folic acid instead. So which is better… Folic Acid vs. Folate?
What’s the difference between
Folic Acid vs. Folate?
Folate and Folic acid are different forms of Vitamin B9. Vitamin B9 plays an important role in cell growth and the formation of DNA. This essential nutrient naturally occurs as folate. Folic acid is a synthetic form of vitamin B9, used in supplements and added to processed food products, such as flour and breakfast cereals.
While most US foods have been fortified with folic acid, it is important to note that foods like leafy greens, avocados, Brussel sprouts and spinach contain folate naturally.
Why does it matter?
The main difference is how our body metabolizes folate and folic acid. We now understand that folic acid is NOT converted to the active form of B9 in the digestive system. Instead, it is forced to be converted in the liver or other tissues. This slows down the process and can leave small amounts not metabolized. Un-metabolized folic acid can build up in the bloodstream, leading to:
- vitamin B12 deficiency
- increased risk of dementia
- decreased nerve function
- heart disease
- birth defects and birth abnormalities
So while you think you may be taking a vitamin to help you and your baby, it may actually be causing harm. It is SO important to take a prenatal vitamin that has folate (methyl folate) rather than folic acid. Your body will metabolize and absorb it better, allowing you to get all the benefits from your vitamins. Combined with a diet full of whole foods, you and your baby can maintain optimal health throughout your pregnancy.
We specialize in prenatal massage and care for women throughout their pregnancy. We have partnered with Rumina Naturals to offer a folate prenatal vitamin in our office. Contact us for more details.