Let’s be clear about one thing straight away: Folate is really important for pregnancy. This B vitamin (B9, to be exact) is an essential nutrient that supports neural tube development during pregnancy. And beyond supporting your baby, it’s important for you too. It’s involved with DNA methylation (a process related to gene expression) and supports red blood cell formation. All in all, it's an important nutrient to look for in a prenatal multivitamin.
Notice how we’re emphasizing folate rather than folic acid? That’s because while folic acid supplements get a lot of buzz as a prenatal must-have, folic acid may not be the most ideal form of folate. The good news? There's an alternative to look out for when shopping for a prenatal. Let's get into the specifics below.
Folic acid is a synthetic form of folate.
Chances are you’re consuming some natural folate on a daily basis—food sources include leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, and legumes such as kidney beans and lentils. The problem is that this isn’t a totally reliable way to ensure that you’re getting all the folate you need, since the nutrient can break down if those foods are chopped or cooked. That’s why supplementation may be a good idea.*