Folate Vs Folic Acid – Can It Increase Your Fertility?

Eloise Edington  |  6 Sep 2021

Folate and folic acid are different forms of Vitamin B9, a super-nutrient when it comes to supplements for a healthy pregnancy. But what is the big difference between the two and how do you know you are consuming the right quantity for conception and pregnancy?

To help you find the answer, we have reached out to Proceive who specialise in fertility supplements and nutrients. Read on to find out how you can effectively incorporate folate into your diet to increase your fertility and chances of a better pregnancy journey.

Words by Proceive

Folate vs folic acid 

Vitamin B9, also known as folic acid or folate, plays a key role in fertility, pregnancy, and the health of the baby. This B vitamin is an essential nutrient that supports neural tube development in pregnancy, and it has been well-studied for its ability to help prevent neural tube defects.

As this happens very early on in pregnancy, it’s an important nutrient to look for in a pre-conception supplement, as it is recommended that women who are planning or trying to conceive take a folic acid supplement daily prior to conception and for the first three months of pregnancy in addition to a healthy, balanced diet.

Folate and folic acid are, however, not the same and it is important to understand the difference before trying to incorporate this B9 vitamin into your diet.

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Are folic acid and methylfolate the same?

People often use the two interchangeably as they are both forms of Vitamin B9, but in fact folic acid and methylfolate are not the same. Folic acid is the synthesised version that is commonly used in processed foods and supplements. Folate, on the other hand, can be found in whole foods such as leafy vegetables, eggs, and citrus fruits. Methylfolate is a form of Vitamin B9 that can be readily absorbed by the body.

Over the past number of years, the scientific evidence behind the natural form of folic acid, L-methylfolate has grown considerably. Published literature, scientific materials and governing bodies, including the American Pregnancy Association (APA), have considered and recommend its usage.

Genetic mutation prevents proper absorption of folate

Did you know your body can’t just use folic acid as it is? Without getting too heavy on the science, it has to go through a conversion process into a form called Methyltetrahydrofolate (MTHF) in order for you to use it. However, recent research has shown that a significant portion of the population have a genetic variant which means they cannot metabolise folic acid into the folate needed by the body. As such, women taking folic acid may not be absorbing this B vitamin as expected.

Related Article – Why These 4 UK Fertility Supplements Are So Popular

As Gaye Godkin, Consultant Nutritionist, explains: “The conversion of folic acid to available folate by the body can be tricky; there are a number of enzymatic steps that need to take place in order to achieve this. The enzyme required to make folate bioavailable to the body is called Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase or MTHFR for short. It has now been better understood that in some people these enzymes don’t work properly, meaning folic acid may not be metabolised in the body correctly.”

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In fact, research indicates that the MTHFR gene mutation can affect over 40% of women worldwide. As Gaye notes, this genetic variant can result in an inability properly to convert folic acid into folate. For this reason, it’s preferable to take folate either from whole food sources or supplements that contain the natural form of active folate instead of synthesised folic acid whenever possible.

Therefore, supplementing with the bioavailable form of folate, methylfolate, can increase the absorption of folate, including in those who have this mutation. Interestingly, scientific research also indicates that methylfolate is also absorbed better than traditional folic acid in those who don’t have the mutation as well.

The Proceive difference

Most conception supplements contain folic acid which needs to be converted into folate. Proceive include the highest quality ingredients that are backed by robust clinical evidence. In response to the latest research, Proceive products contain the more bioavailable form of folate, L-methylfolate. All Proceive products, both women’s and men’s formulations, now include the recommended 400ug L-methylfolate for improved absorption and to provide a more effective version of this nutrient.

Related Article – The Importance of Fertility Nutrients and Supplements for Egg / Sperm Health

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Whether you are looking to use folic acid to increase your fertility through diet or supplements, it’s a good idea to see if your current or intended fertility supplements include folate in their formula. The benefits for fertility and pregnancy are too important to miss out on.

If you are trying to conceive and are interested in ensuring you are getting the right amount of folate in your diet, visit the Proceive website and check-out their fertility supplements. Use code FHH20 for 20% off women’s and men’s fertility supplements at checkout.

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