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The Folate Debate

Updated: Feb 17, 2020

Folate, folic acid, vitamin B9 are these all the same? The answer is No, which is important for women and pregnant mamas to understand. So let’s talk about the differences.

Folate is the natural form of vitamin B9 and is primarily found in liver and spinach. Folic acid, on the other hand, is the synthesized version of this vitamin and is not naturally occurring (ie: this a form of the natural folate but commercially synthesized). Folic acid became “a thing” when the FDA required food to be fortified with more vitamins and minerals. While the occurrence of neural tube defects has significantly reduced since fortification began, high levels of folic acid have been linked to the development of certain forms of cancer. Check out this article By Chris Kresser for more research associated to this link

Folate is necessary for many important functions in the body. It is required for cellular division and reproduction. During pregnancy, a woman’s folate requirement nearly doubles! The minimum recommendation for pregnancy is 400-600 mcg of folate.

Moral of the story: Pregnant mamas need twice the amount of folate than they would typically need. The minimum amount needed to prevent birth defects is 400-600mcg of folate. Leafy greens and liver are the foods highest in folate. To ensure adequate intake, make sure to incorporate these foods in to your while while also taking a good quality prenatal containing FOLATE (not folic acid) prior to and during pregnancy.

These are my favorite prenatal vitamins that have the most readily available form of folate:

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