Let’s start with folate, vitamin B9, this active form plays a key role in fertility, pregnancy and overall your bub’s health. Folate helps promote DNA formation, cell formation and cellular division whilst reducing risk of neural tube defects.
So it’s pretty clear why it’s so important.
Folate can be obtained through food and dietary choices, including dark leafy green vegetables, legumes and eggs. However, with this particular nutrient, it is extremely difficult to achieve a therapeutic dose via diet alone and still consuming folate requires many steps to be in the most active form. So in comes a prenatal supplement to top up your dietary choices to prevent any issues.
So what the heck is folic acid then?
Folic acid is the synthetic precursor to folate, it requires an extra step for your body to convert from folic acid to folate. For this conversion we need an enzyme called methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR for short). Now, to cause more complications, it is estimated that up to 60% of the population has what’s called the MTHFR gene mutation, which depending on the variant of the mutation, affects the function of that crucial enzyme which converts folic acid to folate.
So bingo! We have an issue, without proper screening for this genetic variation we have no way of knowing how you convert folic acid to folate. This doesn’t mean you should take MORE folic acid; in fact if you have the MTHFR gene mutation and you take lots of folic acid, it strains the whole conversion system and can lead to a backlog of folic acid.
If you aren’t going to get tested, we definitely recommend ensuring your prenatal has at least some activated B9, so L-Methylfolate.
Now, all the research has been done on folic acid, as this is where the money is. Research shows that any amount under 220mcg is safe for anyone with the MTHFR gene mutation. So a combination in your prenatal of folic acid with activated folate could be safe too.
This is just one nutrient in the vast ocean of those necessary for preconception health, pregnancy and beyond! If you are interested in finding out what other nutrients you should be including in your diet, join us in our Conscious Conception 12 week eCourse.