Folic Acid Awareness Week begins the second week of January and ends 7 days later, but the potential for folic acid deficiencies, especially among pregnant women, is something to pay attention to every day of the year.
These concerns also tie into another awareness campaign during January, Birth Defects Prevention Month. This campaign seeks to inform women about how folic acid and other nutrients, alcohol consumption, drugs, and how other things that go into the body may affect mother and baby. According to the CDC, only about “13% of U.S. women know that folic acid can prevent neural tube defects, and only 7% know that they must take it before they become pregnant.”
In this article, we’ll take a brief look at why folic acid is important, as well as provide some suggestions for folic acid supplements that fit almost every budget.
Why Folic Acid (Vitamin B9) Is Important
Folic acid is one of many forms of vitamins B9. Folate is the natural form found in nature, and folic acid is a synthetic version that is created in a laboratory. Folic acid is generally considered more affordable and is the form most commonly found in fortified cereals and grains. If you are interested in learning more about the different forms of vitamin B9, read our blog on the differences.
Regardless of which form you take, vitamin B9 is essential to good health. For adults, the CDC recommends consuming 400 mcg of folic acid each day; doctors may recommend that pregnant women or women looking to get pregnant take up to 600 mcg each day.
Research shows that consuming vitamin B9 at the recommended levels supports nearly every area of the body, such as the heart, brain, liver, nervous system, and reproductive health to name a few. For pregnant women, folic acid helps to protect against birth defects such as neural tube defects, congenital heart defects, lip and mouth deformities, and may also contribute to easing of health challenges in pregnant women, including blood pressure issues, preterm labor, and miscarriage.
While you can get vitamin B9 from food, you can’t easily measure your daily intake from what is on your plate, which is why your primary care physician may recommend taking a supplement with a measured 400 mcg or more of folic acid, folate, or one of the other forms of vitamin B9.
For anyone looking for a vitamin B9 supplement, shop the below list of affordable supplement options to find the supplement that fits your needs and budget.
Folic Acid from Solaray contains 800 mcg (200% of your DV) of folic acid in a single vegetable capsule. While this is the least expensive option, don’t consider that a negative. Solaray is a well known and trusted brand that does their best to make supplements available to more people thanks to competitive prices.
Methyl Folate L-5-MTHF from Douglas Laboratories provides 1,000 mcg (250% of your DV) of vitamin B9 in a single capsule. This formula contains vitamin B9 as 5-MTHF, a bioactive form of folate believed to offer ideal purity and potency when compared to some other forms of vitamin B9.
Active Folate B12 Chewable from Davinci Labs contains 1,000 mcg (250% of your DV) as 5-MTHF and also vitamin B12. Vitamin B9 and B12 are believed to “synchronize” and work together in the body for optimal absorption and functioning of vitamin B9 in the body.
Natural Sources of Vitamin B9
Now that you understand the importance of folic acid and the other forms of vitamin B9, you may be wondering about getting more of this essential vitamin from natural sources. Whenever possible, you should try to meet as many of your nutritional needs with a healthy diet.
Fruits, vegetables, and meats contain these essential vitamins, but also important minerals and other natural compounds like antioxidants, good fats, and protein that you may not find in your daily supplement. To see what foods provide a good source of vitamin B9, The New York Department of Health has a comprehensive list of food items like leafy greens, beans, pineapple, and other foods that you should try adding to your daily diet.
With a combination of food, supplements, and a visit with your doctor to talk about your nutritional needs, you’ll have the knowledge you need to maintain your health during your pregnancy and at every stage of life!