Folate & Folic Acid: What' the Difference?

Why is Folate important before getting pregnant?

In the United States, around half of all pregnancies aren't planned. Since the neural tube forms very early in a baby's development, it's recommended that women who might become pregnant take Folic Acid supplements before trying to conceive. The CDC actually recommends all women of reproductive age take folic acid during their reproductive years as a precaution even if you are not trying to conceive. 

What's the difference between Folate and Folic Acid?

People often use "Folate" and "Folic Acid" interchangeably, but they're not exactly the same. Folate includes all forms of B9, the natural kind found in food as well as the synthetic kinds found in supplements and fortified foods. Folic Acid is the synthetic version, which is added to food and some supplements because it's more stable and pretty easy for the body to absorb. However, Folic Acid needs to be converted into an active form (5-MTHF) by the body before it can be used.

What is 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF)?

5-MTHF is a form of Folate that the body absorbs really well. When we consume Folate from food or supplements (like Folic Acid), our body has to change it into a form called 5-MTHF before it can be used. Taking Folate in the form of 5-MTHF means your body doesn't have to do as much work to use it. It's like skipping ahead in a line straight to the final step. It is important to remember this form is also synthetic, it is made in a lab like folic acid. 

What is the MTHFR gene mutation and what does it have to do with folate?

The MTHFR gene tells the body how to make an enzyme called MTHFR, which is needed to process Folate into 5-MTHF. Some variations (or mutations) in this gene may make it less efficient at processing Folate into it's usable form. Having two mutations can affect how well your body creates this essential enzyme. ( autosomal recessive and needs two copies of the gene). To make up for this, some prenatal vitamins often contain 5-MTHF to ensure there's enough of the active form available. At this point in time, there is not strong enough evidence to know if this form of folate really matters for people with these gene variations. 

So what does this all mean?

Health authorities recommend that women take Folic Acid before and during pregnancy to ensure they have enough Folate for a healthy baby. Studies show Folic Acid helps prevent birth defects. The long term evidence surrounding Folate preventing birth defects has been established with Folic Acid and not 5-MTHF. Currently, there is not enough evidence to recommend taking only 5-MTHF to prevent neural tube defects.  

This is just another reason why we have partnered with Bird&Be

Folic Acid has been proven to prevent birth defects, so it is important to have the recommended dose. Bird&Bbe include both Folic Acid and 5-MTHF in prenatal vitamins to ensure everyone gets the recommend dose of Folic Acid and incase you are one of the few who's body might need the 5-MTHF, it is in there too.

If you are struggling to conceive or want some extra fertility support try the Power Prenatal for eggs and Sperm



If you want something to support you but just want the basics try the Basic prenatal 


If you are pregnant and are struggling to keep your prenatal down due to morning sickness try the gentle prenatal 



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