Folate (also known as B9) is now known as a common household recommendation for pregnant women and women trying to conceive to help protect both momma and baby. But do you know why?
When a woman's body doesn't have enough folate to support a pregnancy the likelihood of neural tube birth defects go up by about 70%. What is a neural tube birth defect? It is the lack of proper closure of the spinal cord with the most common problem with spinal cord closure being spina bifida. Which can lead to lack of brain development, paralysis, and a multitude of bowel and bladder problems.
When a woman doesn't consume enough folate she is at a higher risk for heart disease, her immune system is compromised, and she will often feel fatigued. If the deficiency continues for an extended period of time anemia, irritability, and various bowel and bladder problems can develop.
The good news is folate is highly available in natural organic non-GMO foods such as spinach, black-eyed peas, asparagus, brussel sprouts, avocados, even oranges. Spinach is the highest natural source of folate with 262 micrograms per cooked cup which is 66% of the daily value!
Don't like spinach? If you want to get folate from a supplement here is what you need to know. There is a difference between folic acid and folate. Even though they are used interchangeably. Folic acid is a synthetic vitamin developed in the 1940s that requires specific rare enzymes in your body to break it down into useable elements. Folate is naturally occurring and much more bioavailable than folic acid. Folate also might help prevent cancer where as an excess of folic acid in the body over extended periods of time may cause cancer.
Folate also helps your body utilize B12, various amino acids, and iron which means more energy, a higher functioning immune system, a decreased likelihood of anemia and a much safer pregnancy.
How much folate do you need to stay healthy? According to the National Institute of Healthy the daily recommended dosage or RDA (recommended dietary allowances) are as follows:
1. Pregnant Women - 600 mcg/daily
2. Breastfeeding Women - 500 mcg/daily
3. Adult - 400 mcg/daily
4. Teens (13-18) - 300 mcg/daily
5. Older Children (4-12) - 200 mcg/daily
6. Children (1-4) - 80-150mcg/daily
7. Baby and Infants 65 mcg/daily
Babies and infants will get their folate from breastmilk, while children will need to eat oranges, lettuce, and avocados to ensure they get enough folate in their diet for healthy development.