What is Folate?
Folate is formerly known as Folacin, is water-soluble and a naturally occurring form of Vitamin B9, that is present in foods such as leafy greens, vegetables, fruits, etc.
Folate is used as a generic term for all food folates present in nature, and all fortified foods and dietary supplements containing folates also involve folic acid.
Folate is the active-form of vitamin B9 known as 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF) or levomefolic acid.
Folate, along with vitamin B12, is involved in the synthesis of DNA and RNA and is essential for protein metabolism. A significant metabolism, conversion of homocysteine to methionine is not possible without folate. Folate is necessary for producing and growing new cells and red blood cells.
You can consider the worth of folate due to its potential uses in the human body. Let’s explore the role of Folate in Conception, Pregnancy, and Birth.
Folate is the essential fertility vitamin, increases the chances of conceiving, and helps to promote fertility both in males and females. Folate synthetic form is folic acid. It would be best if women will consume foods enriched with folate in their diet. Additionally, doctors recommend that women should take folic acid tablets before and during pregnancy.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised women to take daily 400 mcg(micrograms) dosage of folic acid every month. Research showed that it would be ideal if women starts to take folic acid three months prior to conception. As a result, it accumulates in the woman or mother’s body to a certain level that provides extra protection to the baby.
When a woman conceives, the pregnancy period starts and begins the development of an embryo. You can imagine that from a single cell to produce multiple cells and eventually development and growth of a baby. Folate plays a vital role in synthesizing DNA, RNA, and red blood cells. You can easily understand that Folate deficiency causes serious defects in a baby, such as neural tube defects (NTDs). Hence, mothers must take folic acid before and during pregnancy to save their babies. Pregnant women should take a 400-500 mcg dosage of folic acid during the first three months and a 600 mcg dosage over four to nine months daily. And mothers should consume food containing high-folate. No doubt, foods are enriched with folate but insufficient to fulfill the needs; therefore, artificially folate supplements containing folic acids are used to meet the requirements.
The spinal cord and brain birth defects can be reduced by more than 70-percent by using folate or folic acid. When the spinal cord is unable to close correctly, Birth or Neural Tube Defects (NTDs) happen.
Anencephaly and Spina bifida are serious defects of neural tubes. In Anencephaly, the baby parts such as the skull and brain do not properly develop, and babies will die soon after their birth. In Spina bifida, a baby’s spine develops ineffectively, leading to physical disabilities.
If mothers have a low level of folate in their body, it reduces the synthesizing rate of DNA and RNA; which results into abnormality in babies.
Folate is the necessary vitamin for childbearing age women; its man-made form is folic acid. Folate is involved in forming new cells and in amino acids metabolism. Those women who are planning or trying to conceive are recommended to take folic acid tablets and continue after conceiving.
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