Does Your Prenatal Vitamin Have This?
Whether it’s your first time pregnant, you’ve been pregnant before, or you’re just thinking about getting pregnant you probably already know that taking a prenatal vitamin is highly suggested. With so many options available and different brands with various claims, it’s hard to know which is best. While each woman will have different needs, there are still necessary vitamins and minerals to look out for when choosing a prenatal supplement.
One of the most crucial nutrients women can consume during pregnancy is Folate. Folate is a B Vitamin that protects the baby from developing brain and spinal cord abnormalities (neural tube defects) like spina bifida. Folate also helps to lower the risk of preterm birth. Natural folate is found in foods like leafy greens, cauliflower, beets, broccoli, and lentils. However, most people don’t eat enough natural folate-rich foods and during pregnancy a woman’s need for folate increases.
When it comes to the average prenatal vitamins on the market, several brands contain the synthetic form of Folate known as “Folic Acid.” But what most people are unaware of is that 40% – 60% of our population have a genetic variant that prevents them from converting folic acid into methylfolate, the predominant useable form that the body needs. This MTHFR deficiency can make unmetabolized folic acid toxic.
It’s important to know if you have this gene defect so that you can take the proper prenatal, I happen to be a part of that population and found out thanks to the annual deep blood work my doctor conducts. However, it’s not standard protocol, so many don’t get the type of DNA testing that is needed to tell whether they have one, two or no MTHFR gene variants; even though it’s believed that 3 out of 5 Americans have the genetic inability to absorb folate.
So when looking into prenatal vitamins look for brands that use the most biologically active form of folate. Look for ‘5-methyltetrahydrofolate’, ‘’5-MTHF’ and ‘L-5-MTHF’ in the ingredients list and consider Methylation (MTHFR) Testing.
As always, before you take any supplements, talk to your health care practitioner, especially if you have existing medical conditions or are already pregnant.