Folate provides many health benefits. One of its main purposes is breaking down homocysteine. Homocysteine is an amino acid that can bring upon harmful effects in the body if it is present in high amounts.
Folate also helps form DNA and RNA and plays a part in protein metabolism. It is known for treating certain types of anemia. Folate is a vitamin that is given to women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
There are many folate food options out there. The great thing about the majorities of these foods is that they tend to contain a lot of other nutrients as well.
The Legume family include peas, beans, and lentils. They are known to give you a lot of protein, fiber and antioxidants. They also contain potassium, magnesium and iron.
Nuts and Seeds
Incorporating more nuts and seeds into your diet can help increase your folate, fiber, and protein intake. Peanuts are a great choice and so are sunflower seeds. Flax seeds are another big carrier of folic acid.
Fresh Fruits and Fruit Juices
Citrus fruits, in particular, such as oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes are rich in folate. Packed with Vitamin C, these fruits help your immune system tremendously, which is especially important while your pregnant.
Juicing fruits is an easy way to combine more folate foods together into one. You could also make fruit smoothies and get your source of dairy that way too!
Eating a daily dose of greens has never been so important. Leafy greens such as kale, arugula, and spinach. Studies have shown a variety of benefits that have come out of eating leafy greens along side of the high amount of folate. Lower risk of cancer, increased weight loss, reduced inflammation, and an abundance of vitamin and minerals, to name a few.
Brussel sprouts and broccoli are two other green vegetables that are recommended to eat during pregnancy. These have numerous health benefits as well, and are also a great source of folate.
Beef liver, to be specific, is one of the most concentrated sources of folate out there. Liver is protein packed and also contains a great value of vitamin A, vitamin B12, and copper.
Seafood that has high folate levels include shrimp, scallops, mussels, and prawns. Although most types of fish are loaded with sulfate, some fish are also high in mercury. This is something to look out for as mercury is a metal that can harm your baby’s development. A good practice for eating seafood while pregnant is buying products high in healthy fats but lower in mercury.
When Should a Woman Start Taking Folic Acid?
Folic acid has a great deal of health benefits, even when not pregnant. Since a lot of common foods contain folic acid, you’ve probably been consuming more of it than you think. It is recommended to start taking your folate consumption more seriously 12 weeks before you plan on getting pregnant. Also, the first 12 weeks of you being pregnant is another very important period for your body to intake high amounts of folic acid.
How Folate Helps Your Pregnancy
Folic acid is crucial for early fetal development. Folate also can play a part in reducing the risk of a premature birth, heart abnormalities, and cleft palate, a type of birth deformation.
How Much Folic Acid Is Needed To Prevent Neural Tube Defects?
The neural tube is what forms the embryo’s brain and spine at an early stage. Folate deficiency can lead to spinal cord aberration and neural tube defects, such as spina bifida and anencephaly.
To prevent these issues, it is recommended for pregnant women to intake 400-800 mcg DFE per day. People who have spina bifida or have a family history of neural tube defects should take 4,000 mcg per day. Those who are breastfeeding should aim to take nearly 500 mcg of folate a day.
Alternative Ways to Take Folate
Life360 offers an alternative to consuming folate. If you are on a specific diet or the foods high in folate just don’t excite you, there are supplements that will do the job as well.
Supplements Instead of Folate Foods
One option is the vegan iron supplement from PlantFusion not only provides you the folate you need, but many other vitamins and nutrients as well. This 25mg plant based iron supplement also includes B12 and veggie capsules.
Another option is the metal-free multivitamin from Klaire Labs Vitaprim. Taken twice daily, this supplement is full of a healthy dose of folate and lots of other minerals. More benefits to this iron-free multivitamin are antioxidants, nutrients to help support energy, and Vitamins E and B.
Consult in a Midwife to Discuss Further About a Folate Plan Right for You
Midewife360 is a holistic evidence based practice for routine women’s care, family planning, pregnancy care and birthing. Located in South Florida, our well educated team members are here to provide you with the knowledge and care you deserve to experience the healthiest pregnancy possible.