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As soon as you discover you’re pregnant, it is really important to start getting the correct amount of folic acid or folate as soon as possible. I personally take folate as soon as I know I’m pregnant, rather than folic acid for a number of reasons. Most people think folate and folic acid are the same thing, but they are very different. Let’s get into the details on the differences, and why I believe folate is the best choices for pregnant mamas.
What’s the difference between folate and folic acid?
Folate is a water-soluble B vitamin that is naturally present in some foods., and it plays a major role in the formation of DNA, which is why it is essential for new fetuses growing in the womb. Folate is found naturally in many foods, but the folate in many vitamins is the activated version, or methylated version called, Methyltetrahydrofolate,.
Folate functions as a coenzyme or cosubstrate in single-carbon transfers in the synthesis of nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) and metabolism of amino acids. I actually learned about the role of coenzymes in my nutrition certification course, and they are essential to man processes in our bodies. One of the most important folate-dependent reactions is the conversion of homocysteine to methionine in the synthesis of S-adenosyl-methionine, an important methyl donor. Another folate-dependent reaction, the methylation of deoxyuridylate to thymidylate in the formation of DNA, is required for proper cell division. During the first trimester of pregnancy, it is really important to have enough folate to support this process in the growing baby.
Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate. Many supplements use folic acid because it is highly stable and better at entering the intestinal cells than the natural folate is. Because folic acid is a synthetic form, you can’t consume it naturally, but it is usually added to breads and cereals. The issue with folic acid is that once it enters your body, it needs to be converted in order to be absorbed and put to use properly. The enzyme process, where folic acid is converted to 6S-5-Methyltetrahydrofolate (MTHF) is really important, studies have shown that nearly 40% of women have gene mutations that don’t allow this process to happen.
How much folate or folic acid to pregnant mamas need?
It is suggested that pregnant mamas have a minimum of 400mcg of folate per day. My favorite prenatals have 1000 mcg per serving. If you are taking folic acid, you need a minimum of 600mcg per day.
What is gene mutation and how does it relate to folic acid and folate?
A gene mutation or variation basically just means that a women’s gene sequence can inhibit the enzyme process that converts a synthetic chemical into a nutrient the body can use. Everyone has unique gene sequences, and unfortanuately many women can’t process the folic acid properly. My first two pregnancies, I didn’t know any of this prior to choosing a prenatal vitamin. Now that I do, I prefer folate to folic acid because the enzymatic process is already done before consumption.
MTHFR (6S-5-Methyltetrahydrofolate) is the easiest for women:
I choose folate in the methylated form for my prenatal because I know the absorption process is happening. If you are taking folic acid, there’s a 40% chance that you aren’t converting the folic acid. I have no desire to even take a chance on whether I’m getting the folate necessary for myself and my growing baby.
How do you know if you have the gene mutation?
The best to way to know for sure if you need folate or not is to get a DNA test from your doctor, or order one online. The DNA testing available now is growing and growing, making it super easy to just buy a test online and get your results in a few weeks.
Which prenatal is the best with MTHFR?
I personally love the Ritual vitamins. I am very sensitive to vitamins, and they often make me feel nasueas even if I take them with food. The Ritual vitamins are uniquely formulated to where they don’t cause my tummy to turn, and they have exactly what pregnant mamas need…not a bunch of extra vitamins I’m just gonna pee out later. If you need another option, I know these prenatal vitamins have MTHFR, and look like a very high-quality. There are also more and more amazing prenatal vitamins out there, that you can grab on Amazon to try. The Ritual vitamins are my top choice, but I’m gonna go over some other great choices as well.
The Top Prenatal Vitamins With Folate Not Folic Acid:
Ritual Prenatals disclose where they source all of their ingredients, which don’t come from China, and they really help with sensitive tummies. I can take these at any time, and I was taking their women’s essential vitamin prior to getting pregnant. I love that they have Choline, which is actually a nutrient very important during pregnancy that is often forgotten in prenatals. I’ve been subscribing to them for months now, and I switched my monthly delivery to the prenatal rather than women’s essential. I LOVE that it just shows up each month, and I highly recommend the monthly delivery if you are newly pregnant and will be taking these through your pregnancy!
I also love the unique composition of these vitamins. They actually sit in a liquid form for better absorption. The company was also founded by a mother when she was pregnant, looking for a better prenatal. It is a bit more expensive than other vitamins, but as a mama in the supplement business as well, I’ve learned you really do get what you pay for.
The Pink Stork prenatals definitely give Ritual a run for their money, and according to Amazon they have a peppermint flavor as well! It also looks like they have the same liquid capsules, so basically a similar vitamin to the Rituals, just a different brand. Ritual does require two capsules a day, where as these one only say one on their listing. With one capsule you get 865mcg of folate, rather than the 1000 mcg in two of the Ritual capsules. Basically you get more for your money, and it appears to be a high-quality, similar design! The great thing about these is that you can do the subscribe to save through Amazon, and Ritual is not available on Amazon (that I know of yet!).
The Thorne Basic Prenatal has a full range of vitamins for pregnant mamas, larger than some of the other brands. You’re definitely not going to be missing any vitamins with this one, and you get 90 capsules per serving. I know this is a high-quality brand because it was sold in the doctor’s office I worked in many years ago. They only offered patients the highest-quality brands of supplements, and Thorne was one of them.
Pink Stork Folate:
The Pink Stork Folate vitamins are a great choice becuase they have the MTHFR, not folate. Pink Stork is also a faith-based company run by women for women, so you aren’t dealing with a huge supplement company that may not care as much for their consumer.
These are awesome prenatal vitamins as well because they have the methylated folate (1200mcg per serving) as well as ginger. Ginger can be super helpful for naseau, though I haven’t been super successful with it. I have to have ginger with other ingredients to attempt to relieve the icky tummy.
There you have the top prenatals with folate, not folic acid.
I do my best to research and stay on top of current studies concerning nutrition during pregnancy and postpartum. My sister site, thepostpartumcure.com focuses on nutrition for breastfeeding mamas to lose weight, and it is amazing to see the transformation mamas have with some of my free challenges.
If you have a folate prenatal you love, let me know! I’m always interested in learning about more products out there!