Is folate or folic acid better in a prenatal vitamin?
Both folate and folic acid are forms of vitamin B9. Folate is the naturally occurring form in plants, vegetables, and fruits. Folic acid is the synthetic version found in fortified foods like cereals and pastas, and in supplements like prenatal vitamins. Both will provide the benefits of healthy cell growth, DNA synthesis, red blood cell formation, and prevention of brain and spinal cord defects when at least 0.4 mg (400 micrograms) are taken per day. Both forms are converted to vitamin B9 to varying degrees.
Eat a balanced diet with fruits, vegetables, proteins, and grains, and only take 1 prenatal vitamin per day. Excess vitamins, especially those that build up in your system (vitamins A, D, E, K), can also cause harm. Learn more about dietary sources of folate at http://www.unlockfood.ca. Prenatal vitamins are recommended at least 3 months before trying to conceive.
Examples of foods with folate or those fortified with folic acid include:
- green leafy vegetables
- bok choy
- peanut butter
- whole grain breads or pasta
Those who have a family history of or have neural tube defects, diabetes, epilepsy, or obesity may need a higher dose of folate/folic acid. Checking in with your primary care provider when trying to conceive is a great idea for some preliminary investigations and counselling.
The bottom line is: There is no need to worry too much about the version of vitamin B9. Choose a prenatal vitamin approved and regulated by Health Canada (has a Drug ID Number DIN or Natural Health Product NPH license number) or the FDA.
Choosing a prenatal vitamin by Dr. Laura Von Hagen, ND