I did not plan to write this article today, but after speaking with two pregnant ladies last week, I feel the need to set some things straight with regards to the folic acid...
Folic acid is the synthetic form of vitamin B9. Folate is the natural form of B9, and the folate form which is immediately usable by the body is called methylfolate. I’ve seen medical professionals and health practitioners using folate & folic acid interchangeably though they are different compounds.
B9 is vital for making red blood cells, as well as for the synthesis and repair of DNA and RNA. It is required during pre-conception and for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy to support the prevention of neural tube defects, so pregnant women are prescribed folic acid supplements left-right and centre. But here’s the thing…folic acid is the synthetic form of vitamin B9 and only a small percentage can get converted into the active form of this vitamin which is called folate.
We need certain genes in order to convert the synthetic form of B9 (folic acid) into the active form (folate), but the problem is that almost half of us have genes that reduce our ability to convert folic acid into the active form.
Ideally, we should get this vitamin from whole foods, some of the best food sources are: asparagus, avocados, Brussels sprouts, and leafy greens such as spinach and lettuce.
If I see any supplement with folic acid, I wouldn’t buy it. Folate, or even better, L-methylfoalte is what I would be looking for.
So, unless you know your genetic profile (to ensure you can efficiently convert folic acid into the active form), then I would not leave it to chance. There is too much in stake involved when bringing a baby into this world so, having the right form of nutrients while pregnant is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your baby.