Naturally occurring, folate is found in leafy greens, it is a water soluble vitamin also known as B9, a very important part of a healthy diet. Folate is critical for fetal development and especially important for pregnant women. Folate aids in the neural tube development and can prevent severe birth defects on the spinal cord and fetal brain. Beyond fertility, folate deficiency has also been associated with a myriad of health issues such as stroke, heart attack, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, macrocytic anemia, just to name a few.
Sadly all to often patients are prescribed Folic Acid by their medical providers which is a synthetic form of folate manufactured in a lab much like a pharmaceutical drug and is the form found in many fortified and enriched foods and poor quality prenatal vitamins. A Norwegian study published that folic acid supplementation by pregnant women increases the risk of childhood asthma by 26 and they also cited concerns about the link to autism. There have been other studies that link folic acid supplementation to prostate and colorectal cancers. Folic acid and folate are not interchangeable. They are NOT the same. They do not react in the body the dame and they do not produce the same outcomes.
Approximately 10 years ago, most principled supplement companies made the leap to toss all folic acid from supplements and switch to MethylFolate – which is fantastic! Methyfolate is the bioactive form or usable form of folate, the form the cells need to make neerfy and repair DNA the same kind of DNA that parents five to their offspring. In the prescence of a MTHFR MUTATION, which is the inability for the body to convert folic acid to a useable folate, a very often seen mutation – folic acid that is not converted becomes inflammation in the body and blocks pathways for the body to be be able to utilize the nutritious forms of folate. When this happens in the body, the cells do not form properly and a deficiency ensues.
Folate plays a critical role in the formation of the spine of a fetus. When folate levels are low in pregnancy, the fetus has a much greater risk of being born with spina bifida or other neural tube defects; or more commonly a lip or tongue tied baby, or any other disorder that affects the undifferentiated cells in the midline during embryonic development.
THE TOP 10 FOLATE CONTAINING FOODS
- Romaine lettuce
- Swiss chard
- Mustard/collard greens
- Black eyed peas
As always, very prudent to eat your greens! However if you are advised to take supplementation, please for the love of spinach, ensure that it is folate and not folic acid.