What is Folic acid?
Folate, known as folic acid, one of the B vitamins, has been suggested to be related to infertility  and is considered to be important for oocyte quality and maturation as well as for implantation and normal continuation of pregnancy.
Folate plays an important role in DNA synthesis and epigenetic modification, as well as cell proliferation. Consequently, folate deficiency particularly affects highly proliferative cells (e.g. neural tube cells in the developing fetus), thus enhancing the risk of neural tube defects and several other birth defects.
Folate deficiency is usually caused by poor dietary intake or malabsorption, but there are also several micronutrients, including vitamins B2, B6 and B12, which are needed for folate metabolism. Insufficient concentrations of these vitamins impair metabolism, thereby causing functional folate deficiency accompanied by high concentrations of homocysteine.
When should I take folic acid, and why is folic acid so important in pregnancy?
Folic acid helps prevent some types of birth defects called ‘neural tube defects’. These happen when the fetal spinal column doesn’t close completely or the brain and skull don’t develop properly. Other defects including cleft palate and some heart defects may also be related to inadequate folic acid intake.
With so many supplement products on the market, it can be difficult to know what our bodies really need, and when. It may be confusing seeing advertisements that suggest taking folic acid supplements months before you aim to conceive, however it may prevent neural tube defects, which occur at a very early stage of development – even before many women learn they’re pregnant. It is found in many foods, including dark green leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, peas, dairy products, meat, eggs, and grains. This vitamin is particularly important to a baby’s health and development. To be effective, folic acid must be taken before conception. It is not helpful to start after the pregnancy is established.
How much folate should I take?
It is recommended that you begin to take folic acid supplements at least one month before you want to conceive and continue during your pregnancy. The general recommendation is that women should take 400 micrograms of folic acid per day, increasing to 600 micrograms during pregnancy and 500 micrograms while breastfeeding.
The recommended intake of folic acid is:
- 400 mcg for men and women
- 500 mcg for women who are breastfeeding
- 600 mcg for pregnant women
As with most vitamins, it is best to try to include natural folate as part of your diet as much as possible before turning to upping your intake of supplements.
Top folate-rich foods include:
- Leafy or dark green vegetables such as spinach, asparagus, broccoli and lettuce:
For example half-cup (90-gram) serving of cooked asparagus contains 134 mcg of folate, 34% of the recommended intake . They are also rich in antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties. Half a cup of broccoli, 0.5 contains 52 mcg, and 1 cup of spinach contains 58mcg.
- Avocado: One-half of an avocado contains about 82 mcg of folate,% of recommended intake. They are also high in vitamins K, C, B6, potassium and mono saturated fats, which can help prevent heart disease.
- Legumes such as beans and lentils :
1 cup (177 grams) of cooked kidney beans can contain about 131 mcg of folate, 33% of the recommended intake .1 cup (198 grams) of cooked lentils can contain 358 mcg of folate, 90% of the recommended intake .
- Black-eyed peas, 0.5 cup boiled: 105 mcg
- White rice, 0.5 cup cooked: 90 mcg
- Brussels sprouts, 0.5 cup boiled: 78 mcg
- Romaine lettuce, 1.0 cup shredded: 64 mcg
Should I take folic acid supplements?
As mentioned above, if you can get enough of the above sources each day, you don’t have to take any supplements. Supplements are for those who can’t get enough folic acid each day. I have sourced the internet for vegan-friendly folic acid which I will share below.
1. *HIGHLY RECOMMENDED* NATURELO Prenatal Multivitamin with DHA, Natural Iron, Folate, Plant Calcium
If you are not taking any supplements now, then I strongly you take this prenatal vitamin supplement as it contains other essential vitamins and minerals. Look at the list below for its actual content.
- Vitamin A (as natural beta-carotene; from D. salina with full-spectrum carotenoids) 1040 mcg 80%,
- Vitamin C (from natural L-ascorbate & Organic Acerola Cherries) 120 mg 100%,
- Vitamin D3 (as plant cholecalciferol; from Wild-harvested Lichen) 20 mcg 133%,
- Vitamin E (natural; from Organic Rice Bran) 19 mg 100%,
- Vitamin K2 (natural; as menaquinone-7; from B. licheniformis) 90 mcg 100%,
- Thiamin (natural) 1.4 mg 100%,
- Riboflavin (natural) 1.6 mg 100%,
- Niacin (natural niacinamide) 18 mg 100%,
- Vitamin B6 (as natural P-5-P complex) 3.4 mg 170%,
- Folate [as Quatrefolic® (6S)-5-methyltetrahydrofolate (L-5-MTHF)] 800 mcg 133%,
- Vitamin B12 (as natural methylcobalamin) 4.8 mcg 171%,
- Biotin (natural) 55 mcg 157%,
- Pantothenic Acid (as natural d-calcium panthothenate) 10 mg 143%,
- Choline (from Sunflower lecithin) 100 mg 18%,
- Calcium [plant-based, from Aquamin from algael & natural citrate] 295 mg 23%,
- Iron (natural ferrous fumarate) 27 mg 100%,
- Iodine (natural; from Organic Kelp) 290 mcg 100%,
- Magnesium (from natural citrate & Algae) 210 mg 53%,
- Zinc (as natural amino acid chelate) 13 mg 100%,
- Selenium (as yeast-free L-selenomethione) 70 mcg 100%,
- Copper (as natural amino acid chelate) 1.3 mg 100%,
- Manganese (as natural sulfate) 2.6 mg 100%,
- Chromium (organically bound w/GTF activity) 45 mcg 100%,
- Molybdenum (natural; Krebs complex) 50 mcg 100%,
- Potassium (as natural chloride) 80 mg 2%,
- DHA (plant-based from Algae) 100 mg,
- Boron (natural) 1 mg
I strongly recommend this supplement as it contains 100mg algal DHA as well, and we all know DHA is a very important essential fatty acids that we all need for fertility and during pregnancy. This is also useful for men as it contains ample amounts of zinc and selenium, essential for good sperm formation!
I have also browsed through the reviews, and a whooping 83% out of 244 reviews(that’s a lot!) gave either 4 or 5 star ratings. So you can be assured that you are on the safe side.
This supplement can be taken after you are pregnant!
Take three (3) capsules daily with a meal and a full glass of water.
2. Bronson Organic Folic Acid (Folate) 800 mcg
If you are only looking to supplement your folic acid intake, then this vegetarian supplement is just for you. This product uses only certified organic folate (naturally occurring form of vitamin B9) from whole lemon peel extract. Lemons are grown on an organic farm without chemical pesticides or fertilizers. It is laboratory tested, USDA Certified, manufactured at FDA cGMP registered facility.
It is 100% natural folic acid (800 mcg per tablet), extracted from certified organic whole lemon peel extract. All of the naturally-present bioflavonoids from certified organic whole lemon peel. Water extracted lemon peel free of solvents and volatile impurities. 100% natural-source Folic Acid – free of pesticides, fertilizer and preservatives.
Each Bronson Folic Acid tablet provides 800 mcg of folic acid (200% DV). Bronson Folic Acid utilizes only organic whole lemon peel extract. Lemons are grown on an organic farm without chemical pesticides or fertilizers and water extracted to maintain purity. In addition to the folic acid, the extract provides bioflavonoids naturally present in lemon peel.
I have also looked through the ingredients below and it is 100% organic from its ingredients!
The best thing is you only have to take 1 small pill each day!
Folic Acid (from Organic Lemon Peel extract). Other ingredients: Organic corn maltodextrin, organic corn syrup solids, organic rice extract, organic rice concentrate.
As a dietary supplement, take 1 tablet daily with a meal or as directed by a healthcare professional.
Folic acid is very important for you if you are trying to conceive. However, always talk to your doctor before you start on any supplements, so that he can advise if any of his medication might interact with the supplements you are taking. Contact us to consult with a physician for sound advice on your supplementary intake!
References  Tamura and Picciano, 2006Tamura, T. and Picciano, M.F. Folate and human reproduction. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 2006; 83: 993–1016  Scholl and Johnson, 2000Scholl, T.O. and Johnson, W.G. Folic acid: influence on the outcome of pregnancy. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 2000; 71: 1295S–1303S  Safi et al., 2012Safi, J., Joyeux, L., and Chalouhi, G.E. Periconceptional folate deficiency and implications in neural tube defects. J. Pregnancy. 2012; : 295083  Laanpere et al., 2010Laanpere, M., Altmäe, S., Stavreus-Evers, A., Nilsson, T.K., Yngve, A., and Salumets, A. Folate-mediated one-carbon metabolism and its effect on female fertility and pregnancy viability. Nutr. Rev. 2010; 68: 99–113  https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/legumes-and-legume-products/4300/2 https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/legumes-and-legume-products/4338/2 https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2312/2 Negi JS, Singh P, Joshi GP, Rawat MS, Bisht VK. Chemical constituents of Asparagus. Pharmacogn Rev. 2010 Jul;4(8):215-20. doi: 10.4103/0973-7847.70921.