Yet most expectant moms don’t think twice about the source of their folate, and most prenatal vitamins include folic acid as their source of folate, rather than methylfolate (also called methylated folate or L-methylfolate).
Most health practitioners, doctors and nutritionists use the words folate and folic acid interchangeably, and don’t acknowledge the important differences between them. It’s no wonder most women don’t know the difference between folate and folic acid.
Most people assume that folic acid is simply the supplemental form of folate, but there are some important differences. Recent research shows that folate should be used rather than folic acid.
Why? Folic acid is a synthetic form of folate. It is not fully metabolized by the body. As a result, several studies report unmetabolized folic acid in the blood after the consumption of folic acid supplements or fortified foods. 1
Although folic acid has become commonplace in most supplements because it is cheaper, more than 50% of the population have a genetic variation preventing them from getting any benefit from folic acid, or converting such a small amount of it to a bioavailable nutrient, leaving it essentially useless. This variation is known as MTHFR.
Some research shows that unabsorbed folic acid in the blood can increase risk of certain cancers.² Folic acid may not be as effective as natural folate in preventing neural tube defects, especially if it is not absorbed.
Furthermore, unmetabolized folic acid in the blood stream is associated with decreased immune function.3 Folic acid is also known to mask vitamin B12 deficiency which can zap your energy.
By contrast to folic acid, methylfolate, or L-methylfolate, is the active, natural form of folate that the human body uses.
Since the body cannot produce folate, it must be obtained through the diet. Folate provided by food is not biologically active, and therefore must be processed by the liver into methylfolate, which is the form your body can use.
Methylated Folate activates, synthesizes, and repairs DNA to support healthy neurological development for everyone. That’s why it ensures optimal neurological development for your baby.
It is free of side effects associated with synthetic folic acid.
How To Ensure You Get Enough Folate
Unfortunately, many prenatal vitamins contain folic acid rather than folate. Very few contain methylfolate.
Everyone of every age from kids to adults who are taking multivitamins, should be using multivitamins with methylfolate only.
Look at the supplemental facts on the label of your vitamin to ensure that the source of folate is in fact folate, or methylfolate, rather than folic acid. Many vitamins will put “folate” on the label, but a deeper look will reveal that it is, in fact, folic acid, usually included in parentheses.
Be sure to use a prenatal vitamin with a recommended amount of methylfolate of 800 micrograms which is the ideal amount in a prenatal vitamin to achieve incredible benefits without damage to your body.
Now, go enjoy your newfound energy and show off your beautiful baby bump!
If you are interested in trying a methylated prenatal vitamin check out our BEST Prenatal Vitamin here.
1 Folic Acid Under Scrutiny, Br J Nutr. 2007 Oct;98(4):665-6. Epub 2007 Aug 13.
3 Smith AD, Kim YI, Refsum H. Is folic acid good for everyone? Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Mar;87(3):517-33.