Congratulations – you’re pregnant! Or at the very least you’re thinking about getting pregnant. Like any good parent, you want to research any and everything you can be doing to ensure a healthy pregnancy and a happy baby. One effortless way to support your pregnancy is by introducing prenatal supplements into your daily routine. These supplements are a great way to provide all of the essential nutrients you and your growing baby need. You may be wondering – what exactly is in these prenatal supplements? Prenatal vitamins incorporate everything from zinc to calcium and iron. However, one of the most important ingredients in these vitamins, and for your pregnancy overall, is folate.
What is Folate?
Folate is a natural form of Vitamin B9. Since our bodies cannot produce their own folate, we must get it through our dietary intake. Folate is naturally found in whole foods such as:
- Dark leafy vegetables
- Brussel sprouts
- Eggs, and
- Beef liver
According to the Mayo Clinic, adults should be taking at least 400 mcg of folate per day. If you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant, you can increase your intake to between 400 mcg and 1,000 mcg per day for up to three months prior to conception.
Benefits of Folate
So, you know folate is important for pregnancy, but now we’re going to explore why it’s important. Pregnancy is about growing a healthy baby. While folate is crucial to many of the bodily processes that develop DNA and other genetic material, it can also help with pregnancy side effects like gestational diabetes. Folate has been shown to:
- Reduce the risk of birth defects of the brain and spine
- Aid the formation of red blood cells
- Assist in healthy cell growth, function, and division
- Decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease
- Reduce inflammation
- Improve blood sugar control, and
- Decrease insulin resistance
The National Institutes of Health warns that insufficient folate intake can result in megaloblastic anemia, heart palpitations, fatigue, and folate deficiency where you may experience open sores on the tongue or in the mouth and changes in the color of the hair, skin, and nails. Our bodies’ folate levels can be depleted through pregnancy, poor dietary intake, alcoholism, and surgeries or conditions such as celiac disease that disrupt folate absorption. Having a trusted folate supplement protects you and your baby from the consequences of folate deficiency.
Folic Acid vs. Folate
Folate may be a new term to you, but you’ve probably heard of folic acid. Many use the two terms interchangeably and they are both beneficial during pregnancy; however, they are different. The main difference between the two is folate is the natural form of Vitamin B9 and folic acid is the synthetic form of folate. Since folate is the natural form, it is found in whole foods. However, many countries have started enriching processed foods such as breads, pastas, and cereals with folic acid to increase our dietary intake.
Also, about 67% of people are not able to convert folic acid into its active form to them be properly absorbed and used by the body. We recommend taking a folate supplement, like our Puro Folate, that is already in its active form and therefore leads to better absorption. You are also less likely to see nasty side effects such as nausea, bloating, and appetite loss when taking a folate supplement over a folic acid supplement.
Pregnancy can be an exciting, but exhausting time. Morning sickness, fatigue, hormone changes, cravings, and aches and pains can take over your daily life, easily forcing proper nutrition to the backburner. Getting a trusted prenatal vitamin with proper levels of folate will give you the peace of mind that you and your baby have everything you need for your journey into parenthood.