Why all the fuss about folic acid? Well, recent research shows folic acid is a crucial safeguard to the health of an unborn baby as well as boosting fertility for both men and women.
What Is Folic Acid?
Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate, a water-soluble B vitamin. The human body does not store folic acid, which is why it is important we consume it daily in order to get adequate amounts. Folic acid’s main job in the body is to help produce and maintain new cells, and it is especially important during cell division. Without folic acid, our bodies could not produce DNA (essential for making babies) and red blood cells.
What The Research Shows
A study of more than 18,000 women showed that women regularly taking a supplement containing folic acid had a 40% lower risk of suffering problems producing eggs – which is the second biggest cause of female infertility.
Men who consume high levels of folic acid (over 700 mcg/day) lower their risk of sperm abnormalities by 20-30%. The higher the quality of a man’s sperm, the lower the chances of chromosomal abnormalities that can lead to birth defects such as Down syndrome in babies.
Folic acid decreases the risk of neural tube defects (NTD) like spina bifida as well as other congenital conditions such as congenital heart defects.
Because congenital conditions like NTDs occur in the first three to four weeks following fertilisation, it is crucial to start boosting your folic acid levels BEFORE falling pregnant as it takes a month for your body to reach adequate levels.
Is A Good Diet Enough?
Whilst folic acid is present in leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale; most fruits, including avocado; bean; beetroot; chickpeas; and fortified cereals and breads it is very hard to get enough through diet alone. Therefore to make sure you are getting the levels your body requires its best to take a high quality supplement.