Does your prenatal measure up? Why choosing a prenatal with methylfolate instead
of folic acid will improve pregnancy outcomes.

Pregnancy is a transformative time for expectant mothers, as they strive to ensure the optimal health and development of their unborn child. Proper nutrition plays a crucial role during this period, and one key nutrient that is talked about by medical professionals is folate. Folate is essential for healthy fetal development and reduces the risk of certain birth defects. While folic acid has been traditionally recommended, an alternative form called methylfolate is gaining recognition for its advantages. This post explains why it’s important to get the right type of folate in your prenatal to have the best outcomes.

  1. Enhanced Absorption: Methylfolate, also known as 5-MTHF or L-methylfolate, is the active form of folate that is readily absorbed and utilized by the body. On the other hand, folic acid, a synthetic form of folate, needs to be converted into its active form by the body’s enzymatic processes. However, approximately 30% of individuals have a genetic variation that impairs their ability to convert folic acid efficiently, leading to suboptimal folate levels. Methylfolate bypasses this conversion step, making it more bioavailable and ensuring that pregnant women receive an adequate supply of folate for fetal development.
  2. Reduced Risk of Neural Tube Defects: Neural tube defects (NTDs) are severe birth defects that occur early in pregnancy when the neural tube, which develops into the baby’s brain and spinal cord, fails to close properly. Adequate folate intake is crucial in preventing NTDs. Studies have shown that methylfolate may be more effective than folic acid in reducing the risk of NTDs. Since methylfolate is the active form of folate, it directly participates in important biochemical reactions involved in neural tube closure. Choosing methylfolate over folic acid can therefore offer greater protection against this birth defect.
  3. Improved Methylation Processes: Methylation is a vital biochemical process that is responsible for energy production and overall health and vitality through activating different genes and contributing to strong detoxification pathways. Methylfolate plays a central role in supporting these methylation processes. During pregnancy, proper methylation is crucial for fetal growth and development, as it influences the activation and deactivation of genes. Methylfolate’s direct involvement in these processes makes it an advantageous choice over folic acid, as it ensures optimal methylation support during pregnancy.
  4. Reduced Risk of Allergic Reactions: While rare, some individuals may experience allergic reactions or adverse effects from folic acid supplementation. This can be attributed to the body’s difficulty in converting folic acid into its active form. Methylfolate, being the active form of folate, bypasses the need for conversion, reducing the risk of allergic reactions. Expectant mothers who have experienced adverse effects from folic acid may find methylfolate to be a better-tolerated alternative.

Optimal folate intake is vital during pregnancy to support healthy fetal development and reduce the risk of birth defects. Methylfolate offers several advantages over folic acid, including enhanced absorption, reduced risk of neural tube defects, improved methylation support, and lower risk of allergic reactions. As always, it is essential for pregnant women to consult with a naturopathic doctor or medical doctor to make sure that they are getting recommendations that are applicable to their unique circumstances.

Dr. Christina Holmquist

Dr. Christina Holmquist, ND, pursues excellence in healing and to identify and treat the root cause of disease. This includes aiming for optimal function and vitality, not just settling for “normal”. She prioritizes listening to patients’ stories and understanding their goals and needs. Traditional healing knowledge and evidence-informed medical practices both factor into her treatment plans. Dr. Holmquist has experience working closely with other health care providers to address disease and disharmony from multiple perspectives and is an advocate of integrative medicine.