Why you should be looking for Methylated Folate (MTHF) over Folic Acid
Precursor (so my mother-in law doesn't call us two seconds from now) - We're not trying for a baby. But as I approach the big THREE-ONE (31), I do find myself thinking more about fertility and if my body will be well prepared when we do. I know, I know.. plenty of women don't "prep" their bodies for pregnancy, and many women don't have the chance to with unplanned pregnancies. Pretty sure my mom wasn't thinking about essential vitamins for pregnancy when she was expecting me at 18 years old, and here I am - THIRTY AND THRIVING! That doesn't mean I can't choose to take a few simple steps that make me feel like I'm doing the best for both mine and my future mini-me's health. Actually, I hope they're more of a mini-Derek; I was such a brat growing up and I'm awful at geography.
We all hear about "Folic Acid" and that it's important during pregnancy for a healthy baby. Most of you, especially if you've already been pregnant, know the importance of it and why - but what about us women who haven't been pregnant, are at an age where we don't even think about being pregnant, and have no plans to become pregnant anytime soon? I bet we're not reading up and educating ourselves on essential vitamins for pregnancy (insert glass of wine here whenever someone asks us if we plan on having children someday). So here I am, for you women who know nothing about it, want to know more about it, and are hoping to be a beautiful mama someday.
Folate (Vitamin B9) is often found fortified in our foods and vitamins as it's synthetic form - Folic Acid. I don't understand why companies are still able to claim that this form of such an essential vitamin is substantial, but hey - it's a world of fake news, isn't it? In fact, too much Folic Acid can interfere with the body's absorption of the active form, Folate. In the late 90's, Canada began fortifying white flour with Folic Acid, and now you can find it in many plant based beverages, cereals, goats milk, pre-made rice, nutritional yeast, and enriched pasta - things a lot of us are consuming more of these days. Although Folic Acid is highly stable and better at entering the intestinal cells, it requires a process, once ingested, to convert it into Methylated Folate (MTHF) before your body can use it. So why bother with it in the first place? Not to mention, the process required is often sluggish, and up to 40% of women carry gene variants that hinder it's conversion to MTHF. Seriously - someone tell me why we're making this harder on ourselves by putting synthetic Folic Acid in our bodies?
Methylated Folate (MTHF) is the body's most active form of Folate, no conversion necessary. Your body can't make Folate and must be consumed through foods such as avocado, nuts, beets, cooked broccoli, spinach, wheat germ, and legumes. The problem with relying on food sources is that MTHF becomes degraded when cooked. This is why it's important to find a good supplement with sufficient MTHF to add to your daily routine - whether you're trying to get pregnant, thinking about getting pregnant, in any stage of child bearing age, and for all around health in general.
MTHF is an important vitamin through all stages of life, playing a role in..
- The growth, renewal, and functioning of cells, tissues, and organs
- Healthy mood, memory, and behavior
- Essential for the brain to make serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine
- Promotes brain production of melatonin
- Enhances your body's regulation of hemocystein; a toxic metabolic product of the body
- Pregnancy and birth, supporting healthy neuro tubular function
The recommended daily dose of Folate is 0.40mg before pregnancy, and 0.60mg during pregnancy. You can find these amounts in any prenatal vitamin. There is no benefit to taking more, but I've found it very difficult to find a vitamin that has anything less than 0.60mg. Here are my top Prenatal vitamins with adequate, safe levels of MTHF that we should all be taking as women of child bearing age
- New Chapter Perfect Prenatal: With the lowest level of MTHF at 0.54mg, this is a great all natural vitamin to consider before pregnancy
- Honest Co. Prenatal Once Daily: With 0.60mg of MTHF, this is another great choice before pregnancy
- Rumina Naturals Womb To Grow: Not only is this a Canadian company (and local to Calgary, at that!), this company thrives when it comes to the quality of vitamins they supply. Their prenatal vitamin is full of amazing, natural ingredients and 0.80mg of MTHF - perfect while you're expecting your little one
It shouldn't go unsaid that many multivitamins contain levels of Folate in them. If you choose to take a multivitamin over prenatal vitamins (prior to pregnancy), make sure to read the ingredients and verify that the form of Folate in your vitamin is it's most active form - Methylated Folate.
*The contents of this article are intended for educational and informational purposes only, and do not render medical advice. Please consult your physician for medical advice before considering supplements.