Most women who want to fall pregnant, or those who are pregnant, take a folic acid supplement. The generally recommended dose is 400 micrograms (mcg) per day. During early development, folic acid helps form the baby’s neural tube (the embryonic structure that ultimately forms the brain and spinal cord). Folic acid is very important because it can help prevent some major birth defects of the baby’s brain (anencephaly) and spine (spina bifida). These defects typically occur very early in pregnancy (3-4 weeks after conception), before most women know they are pregnant.
About Folic Acid
Folic acid is a B vitamin. Our bodies use it to make new cells. Think about the skin, hair, and nails. These – and other parts of the body – make new cells each day. Folic acid is the synthetic (that is, not generally occurring naturally) form of folate that is used in supplements and in fortified foods such as rice, pasta, bread, and some breakfast cereals.
Folic Acid vs Folate
The words Folic Acid and Folate are often mistakenly used interchangeably. They are not the same thing. Folic acid is a synthetic form, absorbed by the intestines into the bloodstream, and then it must be converted to active folate by the liver. Therefore, folate is the active form, which is what the body needs.
Unmetabolised folic acid has been associated with several health and fertility problems.
Excessive folic acid has been shown to have four potential side effects:
1. High folic acid intake may mask a vitamin B12 deficiency.
2. Excess folic acid intake may speed age-related mental decline, particularly in people with low vitamin B12 levels
3. May slow brain development in children
4. May increase the likelihood of cancer resurgence
Folate is the natural form of vitamin B9 in food, while folic acid is a synthetic form. If genetic mutations are present in the body, synthetic folic acid cannot be converted into folate. It is estimated that at least 40% of women cannot covert folic acid into folate, which is why folate should be taken instead.
Folate is needed to make red and white blood cells in the bone marrow, convert carbohydrates into energy, and produce DNA and RNA. Your body also needs folate for your cells to divide. Adequate folate intake is extremely important during periods of rapid growth such as pregnancy, infancy, and adolescence.
Where to find Folate
The Supreme Fertility Folate contains two ingredients: Quatrefolic® 5-Methyltetrahydrofolate (50 μg) and Myo-Inositol (500 mg) in each capsule. Both are critical in healthy reproduction for men and women. An additional benefit of the Supreme Fertility Folate is that it contains Quatrefolic which is a fourth-generation folate that passes the gastric barrier and is absorbed mainly in the small intestine by a carrier mediated mechanism. This form is more bioavailable, safer for all patients, more stable, more soluble and already in the active form.
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Otherwise, be sure to check the nutrient facts label, and look for a product that contains methylated folate or ideally Quatrefolic.