Folic Acid vs L-Methylfolate: What to Take During Pregnancy?
As an expecting mother, you may have heard about the importance of taking folic acid supplements during pregnancy. Folic acid is a B vitamin that helps in the development of the neural tube, the baby's brain, and the spinal cord. But have you heard about L-methylfolate? Is it a better alternative to folic acid during pregnancy? This article will explore the differences between folic acid and L-methylfolate and what you should consider taking during pregnancy.
Folic Acid vs L-Methyl Folate
Folic acid is a synthetic form of folate, a B vitamin found naturally in foods such as leafy greens, beans, nuts, meat, poultry, and fortified cereals. Folate is also crucial during pregnancy as it supports the development of the neural tube, which forms the baby's brain and spinal cord.
While L-methylfolate, also known as 5-MTHF, is the active form of folate that our bodies can readily absorb and use. Unlike folic acid, it doesn't need to be converted by the liver into other forms before it can be used. This makes it a more efficient and effective form of folate.
Why is Folate Important During Pregnancy?
Folate is essential for the proper development of the neural tube, which forms the baby's brain and spinal cord in the first few weeks of pregnancy. A folate deficiency can lead to neural tube defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly, which can cause severe disabilities and even death in newborns.
Additionally, folate also supports producing red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the baby and mother. The folate deficiency may cause abnormal red blood cell formation, leading to megaloblastic anemia. In this condition, a few red blood cells that are larger than normal are produced. Due to their abnormal size and shape, a sufficient amount of oxygen doesn't reach the fetus, leading to birth or pregnancy complications.
Best Time to Take Folic Acid
The best time to start taking folic acid supplements is at least one month before conception and throughout the first trimester. The recommended daily dose of folic acid before conception is 400 micrograms, while during pregnancy, it is recommended to take 600 micrograms each day.
However, if genetic variation affects your ability to convert folic acid, you may need a higher dose of L-methylfolate supplements.
Which One Should You Take, Folic Acid or L-Methylfolate?
While folic acid is widely recommended during pregnancy, research shows that about 40-60% of women may have abnormal genetic variations in the methyl tetrahydrofolate reductase enzyme, which regulates folate metabolism, that make it difficult for their bodies to convert folic acid into its active form, L-methylfolate.
Therefore, those women with a family history of NTDs (neural tube defects) or preterm births can take prenatal vitamins or food supplements that particularly contain the active form of folate, L-methylfolate.
However, more research is available on folic acid, its uses, benefits, the potential effect on neural tube defects, and the effects of folic acid supplementation on the mother's and baby's health.
Therefore, if you do not have a deficiency in the enzyme methyl tetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR), which converts folic acid into the active form, L-methylfolate, you can take folic acid supplements, which help support a healthy pregnancy and normal baby growth and development.
From Where to Get an Active Form of Folate?
Are you wondering where to get an active form of folate? Nutrifactor's Nutrifol is a premium quality supplement that contains L-methylfolate in a healthy amount. This activated folate will readily absorb into the body and support healthy fetal development. Moreover, it supports cardiovascular health by helping maintain normal homocysteine levels in the body.
In conclusion, both folic acid and L-methylfolate are important forms of folate that can support a healthy pregnancy. Folic acid is more widely available and accessible to anyone who wants to take it. Moreover, more research data is available on its use during pregnancy than L-methylfolate. However, L-methylfolate may be a better choice for those who have difficulty converting folic acid into its active form. Consult with your healthcare provider to determine the best option for you and your baby.