Your New Best Friend is Folate
Posted on: February 26, 2020
Some women dream of having a baby one day while others are happy to be a pet or plant mom. Whatever your choice, a woman’s health is still valuable to her. There is always the possibility of becoming pregnant, where you want to make sure your body is prepared to have a baby. One of the most important essential vitamins1 for pregnant women is folic acid, but it’s not just for expecting moms. Read on to find out why folate will become your bestie.
What is Folic Acid?
Folic acid is an essential B vitamin1, specifically vitamin B9, and plays an important role in the production of your body’s red blood cells.2 Folic acid is also sometimes referred to as folate, so remember to keep an eye out for all of these when choosing a good women’s supplement. Folic acid is naturally found in dark green veggies and citrus fruits 3,4 which are yummy, but you would need to eat about 12 cups of raw broccoli5 or drink 9 glasses of orange6 juice to get to your recommended daily allowance – who’s got time for that? Folic acid or folate is a pregnancy superhero and is vital in preventing birth defects of your baby’s brain or spinal cord.1 Folate is important for women (and even the guys) for good health.2
Besides Pregnancy, why is Folate Good for You?
Without getting too much about the science, folate is essential for your body to make DNA2 and since our bodies don’t produce folate naturally1, it must be taken in through our food and supplements. Folic acid is also used by our body for cell division2 and has been shown to be great for heart health2. If that is not convincing enough, folic acid is also critical for healthy human brain function. With all this added knowledge, it seems quite clear why you should keep folate close to your heart, and brain, and blood cells, and DNA.
What foods contain folate?
Folate can be found in leafy green vegetables, legumes, egg yolks, liver and some citrus fruits.3,4 Although eating a healthy balanced diet is important, cooking can reduce folate in foods7 and you will need to eat quite a lot of these foods to get your recommended daily amount. Ask your doctor how to supplement your folic acid if you are on an oral contraceptive.
How often should I take it?
Simply put, it’s best to eat a healthy diet and take daily supplements8 to ensure you are getting all you need. Remember your body can’t produce folate1 on its own and it is an essential vitamin which also assists in making sure your body is in tip-top health should you fall pregnant.1
We always recommend you talk to your doctor to get the best advice about your health and remember to ask him/her about what contraceptive options there are available to make sure you are in the best health.
References: 1. Greenberg JA, Bell SJ, Guan Y, Yu YH. Folic acid supplementation and pregnancy: more than just neural tube defect prevention. Rev Obstet Gynecol 2011;4(2):52-59. 2. EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA). Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to folate and blood formation (ID 79), homocysteinemetabolism (ID 80), energy-yielding metabolism (ID 90), function of the immune system (ID 91), function of blood vessels (ID 94, 175, 192), cell division (ID 193), and maternal tissue growth during pregnancy (ID 2882) pursuant to Article 13(1) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/20061. EFSA Journal 2009;7(9):1213. 3. Wilson RD, et al. Preconceptional vitamin/folic acid supplementation 2007: the use of folic acid in combination with a multivitamin supplement for the prevention of neural tube defects and other congenital anomalies. J Obstet Gynaecol Can 2007;29(12):1003–1013. 4. de Benoist B. WHO: Conclusions of a WHO Technical Consultation on folate and vitamin B12 deficiencies. Food Nutr Bull 2008;29(2 Suppl):S238-S244. 5. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. Revised May 2016. Available at https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb /foods/show/2871fgcd=&manu=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=50&offset=&sort=default&order=asc&qlookup=raw+broccoli&ds=&qt=&qp=&qa=&qn=&q= &ing= [Last accessed November 2019]. 6. National Institutes of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements. Health Professional Folate Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet. April 2016. Available at https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Folate-HealthProfessional/ Last accessed September 2019. 7. McNulty H, Scott JM. Intake and status of folate and related B-vitamins: considerations and challenges in achieving optimal status. Br J Nutr 2008;99(Suppl 3):S48-S54. 8. FAO/WHO. Human vitamin and mineral requirements. Report of a Joint FAO/WHO Expert consultation, Bangkok, Thailand. Food and Nutrition Division, FAO Rome.257.2001.