Folic acid’s importance for mums-to-be is well documented. Government guidelines recommend women who are planning a pregnancy are advised to take a 400 micrograms (mcg) folic acid supplement per day and to continue to take it for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy1. Folate contributes to maternal tissue growth during pregnancy, helping guard against major birth defects (neural tube defects). However, you don’t have to be pregnant to benefit from maintaining your folic acid intake.
Indeed, both men and women can benefit from ensuring healthy folate levels
The difference between folate and folic acid
Folate and folic acid are often confused and it is important to understand the difference. Folic acid is the man-made form of a B vitamin called folate; folate is the natural version found in foods.
Why is folic acid important?
Folic acid plays an important role in the production of red blood cells. It also contributes to the normal function of the immune system and to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue. Folic acid has a role in cell division.
Notably, the human body does not store folic acid so NHS guidelines recommend we consume it every day to ensure that we have enough in our system2.
Natural sources of folic acid
Dark green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts are good sources of folic acid (as long as you don’t overcook them). The longer vegetables are submerged in water, the more vitamins seep out so steaming or microwaving is preferable. Less obvious examples include cauliflower, egg yolk, lentils, oranges, parsnips, sunflower seeds and whole wheat bread.
The British Dietetic Association (BDA) maintains that most people should be able to obtain their daily intake of folate from eating a balanced, healthy diet3.
However, people who do not eat sufficient folic acid can develop folic acid deficiency anaemia. A deficiency can sometimes occur from the use of some medications such as water tablets (also known as diuretics) or if requirements increase (such as during pregnancy).
Looking for a folic acid supplement?
Why not try Seven Seas Pregnancy Range available in key retailers like Boots, Tesco, Amazon, Morrisons, Asda, Superdrug and Sainsbury's.