Benefits and Types of Folic Acid

Folic Acid (Folate) – a critical nutrient for before conception and throughout pregnancy

Folic acid matters, and the type of folic acid matters too.
  • Prevent Birth Defects.  Folic acid helps your baby's brain and spinal cord form properly to prevent birth defects. It's important to start taking folic acid as soon as you think about becoming pregnant because the baby's brain and spinal cord start developing just three weeks after conception, before most women even know they are pregnant. 
  • Healthy eating is not enough.  Also known as Vitamin B9, folic acid is found in its natural form (called folate) in such foods as leafy green vegetables, red meats, beans and peas, and citrus fruits. It is such an important nutrient that it is also added to some packaged foods. However, the amount of folate needed to help ensure healthy development of a baby's brain and spine is more than the amount women typically consume from food. So women who are trying to become pregnant, and who are already pregnant, are advised to take a prenatal vitamin with folic acid. 
  • Prenatal Vitamin Supplements.  One of the main reasons healthcare providers prescribe prenatal vitamins with 1 mg folic acid is to help ensure moms-to-be and moms get enough folic acid for, and then meet, the additional needs of baby's early development. 

L-Methylfolate* – Biologically active folate

Folic acid comes in different forms, with different names and different properties.
  • Folate is the naturally occuring form of folic acid that is found in foods taken from the earth. The amount of folate in the diet of women in the US is insufficient to meet the needs of preconception and pregnancy. Also, this form of folate loses its health benefits when it is not fresh, so packaged foods and supplements are fortified with the stable form of folate: folic acid. 
  • Folic Acid  is a synthetic or man-made form of folate that retains its potential to provide health benefits when used in packaged foods and vitamin supplements. However, folic acid needs to be converted into a different and biologically active form by the body in order for it to help baby's brain and spinal cord. More than half of all women in the US are unable to effectively convert synthetic folic acid to the bioactive form (called L-methylfolate) that provides health benefits.  
  • L-methylfolate is a biologically active form of folate. This means women who take L-methylfolate do not have to worry whether they are among the 1 in 2 women whose bodies cannot effectively convert folic acid into a usable form. L-methylfolate is already a bioactive form of folate so there is no concern over whether it can help baby's brain and spinal cord develop. Its safety has been proven over a long history in pregnancy, and it is well absorbed by the body. L-methylfolate is also known by its longer name (6S)-N5-methyltetrahydrofolic acid calcium.  

How L-methylfolate Works 

L-methylfolate is bioactive so it is immediately usable by the body to protect baby.

The 4-step conversion process that is needed to make folic acid usable by the body is eliminated with the direct use of L-methylfolate.

*The L-methylfolate in Prenate® vitamins is non-branded L-methylfolate vs. ingredients supplied by branded manufacturers. The L-methylfolate ((6S)-N5-methyltetrahydrofolic acid calcium salt) in Prenate® vitamins is less than 1.0% D-isomer.

WARNING: Accidental overdose of iron-containing products is a leading cause of fatal poisoning in children under 6. Keep this product out of reach of children. In case of accidental overdose, call a doctor or poison control center immediately.
WARNING: Ingestion of more than 3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids (such as DHA) per day has been shown to have potential antithrombotic effects, including an increased bleeding time and International Normalized Ratio (INR). Administration of omega-3 fatty acids should be avoided in patients taking anticoagulants and in those known to have an inherited or acquired predisposition to bleeding.
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