The Importance of Folic Acid for Pregnancy and Beyond

Jenna Kahn
Jenna Kahn
5 minute read
January 18, 2022
Image of natural foods containing B vitamins with the words "Folic Acid" spelled out.
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At the beginning of the New Year, there’s an often under-celebrated week known as Folic Acid Awareness Week. We call it often “under-celebrated” because it arrives on January 3, doesn’t get much fanfare and is gone before we know what to do, how to react or what steps we can take to implement more folic acid into our diets. 

The roots of the week lay with the CDC and National Birth Defects Prevention Month, which began in 1997. The reason behind this push was simple: Research shows that taking folic acid before you get pregnant may help prevent birth defects, including serious neural tube defects and congenital heart defects. So it’s vital for the proper development of a newborn baby. 

But even if you’re not planning to have children in the near future, there are multiple reasons to be aware of folic acid, folate and Vitamin B9. Wait, and what are these three names?

What is Folic Acid?

Vitamin B9 is typically known as folate. Folate is found in leafy green vegetables such as kale, asparagus and spinach, fruits such as avocado and nuts such as peanuts and walnuts. The synthetic version of folate is known as folic acid, which is used in supplements and added to processed food products, such as flour and breakfast cereals. 

Why is Folic Acid important?

In both forms, Vitamin B9 is necessary for the production of red blood cells and for the synthesis of DNA. It also helps with tissue growth and cell function. Vitamin B9 may also help protect against DNA damage, heart disease, depression and some forms of cancer. And according to YouTube extraordinaire Dr. Eric Berg, a folate deficiency causes the same damage as ionizing radiation from x-rays.” 

How do I get Folic Acid?

Like all “take your vitamin” spiels, the easy route isn’t always the best route. We’d all love to take a multivitamin and call it good, but the truth is, supplements are specific extracts of nutritional components to a healthy diet, while eating B9-rich foods delivers more of a nutritional punch. There’s not an all-encompassing black and white argument here though. “The CDC urges all women of reproductive age to take 400 micrograms of folic acid each day, in addition to consuming food with folate from a varied diet, to help prevent some major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine.”

If you’re a kale warrior and determined to go the whole food route, here’s a handy list of recipes high in folic acid. 

If you need to supplement your Folic Acid intake, no one is stopping you.

And finally, no matter how you get it, B Complex may reduce stress and boost mood, so you can level up and feel better at the same time!

Learn more about Restore Biomarker Assessments.

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