Dr. John Phelts offers nutrition consults for moms-to-be in his New York, NY office. Folate is necessary for the development of the baby's neural tube, which is forme during the first trimester. The neural tube is important for the development of the baby's brain and spinal cord. It is also important for the formation of genetic material. Low folate levels are associated with neural tube defects, which can cause brain and spinal cord conditions, as well as heart conditions.
When purchasing a prenatal multivitamin it is important to understand the difference between Folate and folic acid. Folate is in the form that the body can use. Folic acid is synthetic and the body has to convert it to folate before the body can use it. The body is not good at converting folic acid into folate. The active form of folate is 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF). Look for supplements with 5_MTHF. They are a little more expensive, but also more effective at the same time. You also want to make sure that it has at least 400 mcg of folate.
Consuming whole foods is always the best way to get your nutrients. Foods rich in folate include:liver, asparagus, avocados, Brussels sprouts, spinach and lettuce. A dietary supplement in recommended in order to ensure sufficient levels during pregnancy. If you have questions about the role of or form of folate you need during pregnancy, consult Dr. Phelts for guidance. Call us at 212-286-2012.