The foods on this image are rich in folate / folic acid. Add these foods into your diet daily while trying to conceive (and even before trying to conceive if you’re planning ahead). It’s essential to continue to consume these foods throughout your entire pregnancy and while breastfeeding.
In addition to eating foods rich in folate it’s also important to choose a good prenatal vitamin and start taking it at least 6 months – 1 year prior to conceiving if possible. If your pregnancy was unplanned, don’t stress, just begin taking a prenatal vitamin as soon as you find out you’re pregnant. I recommend Ritual Prenatal (code prenatalhealth for a discount), Thorne Prenatal, and MegaFood Prenatal to my clients.
Folate is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning it doesn’t need fat to help absorb the nutrients. Folate is also known as Vitamin B9.
The need for folate increases during pregnancy as it plays a role in the development of cells in the fetus. Folate is so important in supporting proper fetal growth and development to reduce the risk of birth defects (neural tube defects of the brain or spine). It also supports healthy cell division. Vitamin B9 is found naturally in all of the foods listed in the graphic above.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance for folate is listed as micrograms (mcg) of dietary folate equivalents (DFE). Pregnant women require 600 mcg of DFE and lactating women require 500 mcg of DFE. Adequate folate isn’t always easy to get from food alone, which is why if you are planning on becoming pregnant you should take extra folic acid as a supplement alone, or in a prenatal vitamin. Too little folate is linked to birth defects of the spine (spina bifida) and brain (anencephaly).
It’s *very* important to note that people carrying a variant of the gene MTHFR cannot convert folate to its active form (L-methylfolate) to be used by the body. This is why it’s so important to find a prenatal vitamin that contains methylated folic acid.
*In addition to the foods listed be sure to take a prenatal vitamin daily. Below are my recommendations: