How Can You Get Folic Acid From Food
You can get folic acid from food. Some foods are fortified with folic acid. Fortified means a food has folic acid added to it. Check the product label to see how much folic acid you get in each serving. Look for the word fortified or enriched on labels on foods like:
- Products made from a kind of flour called corn masa, like tortillas, tortilla chips, taco shells, tamales and pupusas
- White rice
Some fruits and vegetables are good sources of folic acid. When folic acid is found naturally in food its called folate. Foods that are good sources of folate are:
- Beans, like lentils, pinto beans and black beans
- Leafy green vegetables, like spinach and Romaine lettuce
- Citrus fruits, like oranges and grapefruit
- Orange juice
Its hard to get all of the folic acid you need from food. Even if you eat foods that have folic acid in them, take your vitamin supplement each day, too.
Risks Of Taking Supplements
While most vitamins are sold over the counter, theyre not necessarily risk-free. Many supplements can negatively interact with medications you may already be taking, causing unpleasant side effects or aggravating existing health conditions.
Though it may sound far-fetched to overdose on vitamins, its also possible to take in excessive doses to the point of harm. Some micronutrients have set tolerable upper intake levels meaning the amount you can consume before experiencing adverse effects.
To avoid overstepping these bounds, follow dosage instructions on the supplements label, and always consult your doctor before beginning a new vitamin or supplement.
Its also important to note that the Food and Drug Administration does not monitor or regulate vitamins or supplements for quality like it does for medications. Quality may not be consistent from batch to batch. This is why finding a reputable brand is so important.
How Do You Read A Product Label To See How Much Folic Acid Is In A Vitamin Supplement
To find out if a vitamin supplement has folic acid in it, check the label . The label is usually on the back of the bottle. Look for the word folate on the label to see how much folic acid youre getting. The label tells you this information:
- Serving size. This tells you how much of the product is in one serving. One multivitamin usually is one serving.
- Servings per container. This tells you how many servings are in a multivitamin bottle. For example, if two pills are one serving and the bottle has 30 multivitamins in it, thats 15 servings.
- Nutrients, like vitamin D, folate and calcium, in each serving
- Daily value of one serving. DV is the amount of a nutrient in a serving. For example, if the DV of folic acid in a multivitamin is 50 percent, that multivitamin gives you 50 percent of the folic acid you need each day.
Vitamin supplement labels now list mcg DFE of folate, which stands for dietary folate equivalent. Its the amount of folate your body absorbs. If a serving has less than 400 mcg DFE of folate, you need more than one serving to get all the folic acid you need each day.
Labels on food products dont always list the amount of folic acid in the product. Newer food labels that list folic acid will list mcg DFE of folate, just like for vitamin supplements.
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Supplements All Women Trying To Get Pregnant Should Take
A prenatal vitamin should be taken before you become pregnant, not just when you find out that you are having a baby. Along with prenatal vitamins, there are additional supplements that may improve your fertility health and help with conception. But it is best to start taking supplements a few months or more before conception, since it may take a few months to get their full benefits. There are so many supplements available. But to keep things simple, here are six that have the best chance of giving your fertility a boost and increase your chance of having a baby.
Co Enzyme Q 10:
Is the source of fuel for mitochondria and is needed for the basic functioning of cells. Our recommendation: If you are up to 37 years old take 200-400 mg and if you are over 37 years old take 400-600 mg.
Studies have shown that despite taking a prenatal vitamin, women were still low in Vitamin D. There is typically not enough Vitamin D added to a prenatal pill so it is important to check. Low Vitamin D levels in early life is linked to schizophrenia, diabetes and skeletal disease. Appropriate levels of Vitamin D intake can prevent or reduce depression, dementia, diabetes, and autoimmune disorders. Our recommendation: Take 2,000-3,000 IU daily.
Preliminary studies have shown that this supplement may help prevent miscarriage. Selenium is an antioxidant and protects cells from damage. Our recommendation: Take 200 mg daily.
How Much Folic Acid Do I Need
The recommended dose of folic acid is 400 mcg per day. Most folic acid supplements or prenatal vitamins will have the recommended daily amount, but check the label on the bottle to be sure youre getting the amount you need.
However, you may need a higher dose if youve previously had a baby with a neural defect or you have a history of neural defects in your family. If you think you need more folic acid than the recommended dose, speak to your doctor who can prescribe higher dose tablets.
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Risks Of Folic Acid Supplementation
You can have too much of a good thing. Unless your doctor prescribes it, your daily supplements shouldn’t include more than 1,000 mcg of folic acid.
Taking large doses of folic acid may cover up a vitamin B-12 deficiency, which can cause irreversible damage if not caught early on. Your doctor should test your B-12 levels before putting you on high dose folic acid supplements.
Theres also a concern that high doses of folic acid may actually harm DNA synthesis in sperm.
Folic acid may interact with other medications. For example, folic acid may reduce the effectiveness of the anti-seizure drug phenytoin. Also, some fertility blends include herbs that can interact with fertility drugs. So be sure to speak with your doctor before beginning any supplementation.
Are There Risks From Taking Folic Acid
Generally when taken orally, and at appropriate doses, folic acid is safe. If you take too much folic acid your body gets rid of any excess in your urine.
Some people may experience minor side effects from taking folic acid supplements such as:
- Bad taste in the mouth
Signs of an allergic reaction to folic acid include:
- Skin rash
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Does Folic Acid Impact Fertility
Folic acid can have a powerful effect on female fertility, both before and after conception.
The reason it is widely taken in supplement form when planning pregnancy, or already pregnant, is that in the early stages of fetal development, folic acid can help prevent birth defects known as neural tube defects, including spina bifida.
But additionally, for women who are struggling to conceive, folic acid has been shown to help prevent early pregnancy complications that can lead to miscarriage, and is essential for the healthy development of babys brains and spinal cords.
Without enough folic acid, the cells… cant function or grow properly and the tube doesnt close. The spine, skull, and brain can be affected, with open or closed abnormalities. Two of the most common types of NTDs are spina bifida and anencephaly. – Stanford Childrens Health
Folic acid and female fertility benefits dont stop there.
Folic acid may help with cell metabolism throughout our body, including in ovaries.
Folic Acid And Male Fertility
While there is clear research on the benefits of folic acid for fertility in women, the research is mixed when it comes to folic acid and male fertility.
Some studies have suggested a link between folic acid intake and male fertility. In particular, a double-blind study led by Dr. Wai Yee Wong of the University Medical Center Nijmegen in the Netherlands studied men struggling with male factor infertility. They found that those who had been taking folic acid and zinc supplements for 26 weeks experienced a 74% increase in the amount of normal sperm in their semen. This study suggests that folic acid can actually improve the quality of a mans sperm while lowering the risk of sperm abnormalities that could interfere with conception.
However, a larger double-blind study that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2020 studied couples who were planning infertility treatments. They found no evidence of higher live birth rates among men who took zinc/folic acid supplements.
What does this mean if youre struggling with male infertility? Put simply, fertility is a complex process. Its best to start with a semen evaluation to determine the cause of your fertility challenges. From there, your doctor can recommend treatments to fix or manage any issues they find.
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Benefits Of Folic Acid
Folic acid is a B vitamin that naturally occurs in both men and women to help generate new cells. Folic acid is a key component in all prenatal vitamins due to its benefits for fertility and pregnancy. Dr. Katherine Shepherd, obstetrician and gynecologist at INTEGRIS Womens Health Edmond, recommends women start taking prenatal vitamins or folic acid supplements at least one month prior to trying to conceive. However, because 50 percent of pregnancies are unplanned, Shepherd urges all women of childbearing age to take prenatal vitamins daily.
Fertility and Folic Acid
More than 12 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 54 experience problems with fertility. Consuming high levels of folic acid can potentially reduce ovulation problems in healthy women who are trying to conceive. However, Shepherd says the research to support folic acids impact on female fertility is not extensive. If you have been trying to conceive for more than six months, consider consulting a gynecologist or fertility specialist.
Pregnancy and Folic Acid
There are 3,000 cases of neural tube defects in the United States each year. NTDs occur when the developing neural tube does not close properly in the first month of pregnancy, leaving part of the spinal cord exposed, which causes severe developmental defects in the spine and brain. According to the Center for Disease Control, women who consume 400 micrograms of folic acid per day prior to conceiving have a lower risk of NTDs.
How Often To Have Sexual Intercourse
To give yourselves the best chance of success, try to have sex every two to three days. If you are under psychological stress, it can affect your relationship and is likely to reduce your sex drive.
If this means you do not have sex as often as usual, this may also affect you or your partners chances of getting pregnant.
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Can I Prevent My Baby Getting Spina Bifida
The best way to reduce the risk of your baby developing a neural tube defect is to take daily folic acid supplements from 12 weeks before conception until at least 12 weeks of pregnancy. Researach shows that taking a daily folic acid supplement of 400 micrograms reduces the risk of your baby developing spina bidifa and similar birth defects by up to 70%.
Folic Acid In Your Diet
Folic acid is considered to be an essential vitamin for both men and women. It’s available in the form of supplements, or naturally through foods. Foods with naturally-occurring folate include fruits and vegetables. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, you can find folate in fruits like avocado, banana, citrus fruits and papaya. You can also find this vitamin in vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, brussels sprouts and many leafy greens. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has also been adding folic acid to cereal and grain products since 1998. This means that rice, pasta, bread products and breakfast cereals are all usually good sources of folic acid.
Like all vitamins, folic acid is also available as a supplement. In fact, this is the difference between folate and folic acid. Folate is the naturally occurring version of vitamin B9, while folic acid is the vitamin in supplement form. Folic acid in supplement form is about 50 to 60 percent as beneficial as naturally-occurring folate. In actual numbers, this means that every microgram of folate you eat is equivalent to 0.5 or 0.6 micrograms of folic acid supplement.
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Taking The Right Amount Of Folic Acid At The Right Time
To help reduce the risk of neural tube defects, you are advised to take 400 micrograms of folic acid per day. Ideally this should start as soon as you stop using contraception, and continue until the 12th week of pregnancy. Alternatively, start taking it as soon as you know you’re pregnant you can still positively influence your babys development.
400mcg of folic acid per day is recommended, before conception and for the first trimester.
However, based on the outcome of a recent study, you may consider taking folic acid for much longer than this. The study looked at the effect folic acid had on having a preterm baby, and revealed a significant decrease in preterm delivery in women who took the supplement for a year before conceiving3.
Continued Supplementation Throughout Pregnancy
Canadian survey data show that it is difficult for most women of childbearing age to consume enough folate from diet alone to meet their pregnancy needs. Over 75% of non-pregnant/non-breastfeeding women aged 19 â 50 have intakes less than the Estimated Average Requirement Footnote 10 for pregnancy, 520 mcg of DFEs . To meet folate needs during pregnancy, women should consume a varied diet that provides dietary folate , and continue taking a multivitamin containing 400 mcg of folic acid throughout their pregnancy.
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What Are The Possible Effects
The symptoms of spina bifida include:
Cognitive problems including a short attention span, difficulty solving problems, and difficulty with handeye coordination, such as tying shoelaces.
Mobility issues damage to the brain may lead to some mobility problems with most spina bifida sufferers needing to use a mobility aid or even a wheelchair.
Bladder and bowel problems bowel and urinary incontinence can occur if the nerves running from the brain to the bladder through the spinal cord are damaged.
Where Do I Get Folic Acid
Folic acid can be found in lots of branded pre-pregnancy vitamins. These are not harmful but can sometimes be expensive. It is often cheaper to buy folic acid separately rather than buying expensive branded supplements.
Do not take vitamin A supplements or any supplements containing vitamin A, such as liver or fish oil. High doses of Vitamin A can cause developmental problems in the first three months of pregnancy.
If you receive certain benefits or are under 18 you may be eligible for free vitamins when you become pregnant.
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What Should You Do If You Carry The Variant
While folate is important for everyone trying to conceive, it is especially important for women who carry the MTHFR variant.
Leafy green veggies and beef liver are both excellent dietary sources of folate. You know that it is important to get your greens in every day, but if you carry the MTHFR variant, it is truly essential when trying to conceive.
This isn’t just a woman’s issue.
Men who carry the MTHFR variant are more likely to have fertility issues, and male MTHFR variants are also linked to an increased risk of miscarriage. So get your partner on board with optimizing nutrition, joining you in eating more greens and beef liver.
How To Get Enough Folic Acid To Prevent Neural Tube Defects
In addition to eating foods with folate from a varied diet, women can get folic acid from
- Taking a vitamin that has folic acid in it:
- Most vitamins sold in the United States have the recommended daily amount of folic acid that women need for the prevention of neural tube defects. Vitamins can be found at most local pharmacy, grocery, or discount stores.
If taking folic acid for reasons other than neural tube defect prevention, talk to your healthcare provider.
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What Are The Risks Of Taking High Doses Of Folic Acid
There are risks involved when you end up having too much folic acid as well and it is important that you only have the dosage recommended by your doctor. The daily intake of folic acid should not exceed more than 1000 mcg. Large doses may mask vitamin B-12 deficiency. However, it is wise that B-12 levels be tested before going ahead and including extra supplements.
Also, high doses can harm the DNA synthesis inside the sperm and it can also interact with other medications. Folic acid can reduce the effectiveness of phenytoin, which is an anti-seizure drug.
Thus, folic acid can play a big role in ensuring that both men and women are able to increase their fertility levels. While they are found in most common foods, extra dosage of folic acid on a regular basis can help in conceiving. It is recommended that you visit a doctor before going ahead with any extra dosage as too much of it can cause issues as well.