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Everything You Need to Know About Folic Acid

If you’ve been pregnant before or want to have a baby, you’ve probably heard about the benefits of folic acid. But did you know that all women can benefit from taking it?

In this blog post, we’re going to tell you everything you’ve ever wanted to know about folic acid - what it is, why you need it and how to get the best folic acid through food and supplements.

What is folic acid?

Folate and folic acid are forms of vitamin B9. Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate (the type you’ll most likely find in a supplement) while folate is the natural form found in food.

Folic acid plays an important role in our body and yet, we can’t make it on our own, so we need to get it through food and supplements. It’s necessary for the production of red blood cells and for the functioning of the nerves, and it is very important for the development of the nervous system of the baby growing inside you. 

Why should I take folic acid?

Folic acid is most often used by women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant because it is proven to help prevent serious brain and spinal birth defects like spina bifida. That’s why it’s recommended to all pregnant women and found in all prenatal supplements. Some studies have also shown that women who take folic acid have a more regular menstrual cycle.

But folic acid also has lots of other benefits. Taking it regularly can help keep your blood healthy by helping red blood cells form and grow. Folic acid is also used for many other conditions like depression, stroke, a decline in memory or cognitive skills and many others.

What happens if you don’t get enough folic acid?

Folate performs several important functions in the body like keeping your nervous system healthy. When you’re not getting enough folate, it can cause a wide range of problems like extreme tiredness, lack of energy, muscle weakness, depression, confusion or problems with memory, understanding or judgment.

Deficiencies can also present in other more serious ways like mouth sores, infertility and Alzheimer’s Disease. And of course, not taking it while pregnant can increase the risk of birth defects.

The side effects of not getting enough folate are very real, but the guud news is that upping your intake of folic acid is very easy, both through supplements and through food.

How much folic acid should I take?

The general guidance is that women need a minimum of 400 micrograms of folic acid every day. This is especially important if you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant. It is widely recommended that women take folic acid for up to 12 weeks when pregnant and then after that, it is not as critical. However, a recent study of 26,000 women showed that if you take folic acid continuously throughout your pregnancy, it could reduce the risk of perinatal depression, so we say, take it the whole time. There’s no downside.

Sometimes, you might need to take more folic acid. For example, if a condition like spina bifida runs in your family or if you have a health condition that affects how your body absorbs folic acid (like inflammatory bowel disease).

Is there a certain kind of folic acid that is better than others?

Look for a supplement with active folic acid, like Guud Flow. Guud Flow contains 500 mcg of Quatrefolic® per capsule which is the brand name of an easily absorbable active form of folic acid. Why is this important? It’s because folic acid and folate from food are not biologically active so your body needs to convert it to the metabolically active form called 5-methyletrahydrofolate (or 5-MTHF for short). Many people, due to their own genetics, actually can’t convert folic acid to 5-MTHF. This means that even though you may be taking folic acid, it can’t do its job properly.

With Quatrefolic®, you don't have to worry about conversion, because your body can absorb this active form of folic acid right away. It may sound complicated, but all you need to know is that Quatrefolic is the most readily absorbable form of folate. It’s actually the only form that your body can immediately use so you can be sure you’re getting all the benefits.

I want to increase my folic acid intake naturally. What can I eat?

It’s easy to get your daily dose of folic acid because lots of foods naturally contain folate. Folic acid is also routinely added to foods like bread, cereal, pasta, rice and other grain products.

Good sources of folate are things like:

  ● Green leafy vegetables (Think: spinach, kale, asparagus, broccoli)
  ● Beans
  ● Peanuts
  ● Sunflower seeds
  ● Whole grains
  ● Eggs
  ● Seafood
  ● Fresh fruits and fruit juices

So think about a bowl of fortified breakfast cereal like muesli with some freshly chopped orange slices or a glass of orange juice. This breakfast alone will provide you with two sources of folate. You’ll also get some good nutrients from the milk - cow or plant-based - in your cereal.

Still have questions about folic acid? Get in touch. We can help answer any questions you have.