But First, Why Folate is Important in a Prenatal Multivitamin
For starters, folate, also known as vitamin B9, is a nutrient we should all aim to get on a daily basis: It supports normal DNA synthesis and methylation, along with red blood cell formation. But this water-soluble vitamin becomes all the more essential for those that are pregnant or trying, thanks to its important role in supporting neural tube development and normal cell division ). And while folate can be found in foods like leafy greens and citrus fruits.* (2)
That’s where supplementation can come in handy. The caveat? Many supplements use folic acid, the synthetic form of folate. To utilize folic acid, we require the help of the MTHFR enzyme. Up to one-third of the population have a genetic variation which can make it difficult to efficiently utilize certain forms of folate as folic acid. It’s why we opt for methylated folate (5-MTHF) in our multivitamins—to bypass the MTHFR genetic variation.* It’s also worth noting that the bioavailability of 5-MTHF in supplements is the same as folic acid.
The Latest Science on Prenatal Folate
Why is this background important? Because the folate levels in our Essential Prenatal were chosen with genetic variations and other recommendations in mind–we wanted to make sure that even those with the MTHFR gene were supported throughout their pregnancies, and previous research had indicated a potential health benefit for a higher dosage. But the latest research from our Scientific Advisory Board member Dr. Marie Caudill, PhD, who is one of the world’s leading experts on prenatal folate, confirms that going well above and beyond where this nutrient is concerned might not actually be necessary.*
In other words, Dr. Caudill and her team concluded that staying relatively close to the RDA for folate is sufficient for people with different MTHFR makeups. “There is no evidence (I am aware of) that they would benefit from high dosages,” she says.
So why do we still go a little higher than the RDA (600 mcg DFE) in our prenatal formulation? “Since a proportion of people, especially those who possess the MTHFR genotype, still showed low normal levels following the RDA, we identified the 1000 mcg DFE per serving as an optimal dose,” says Dr. Mastaneh Sharafi, PhD, RD, Ritual’s VP of Scientific Affairs. “Also, The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends a daily supplement of 400–800 µg folic acid for all women† who are planning or capable of pregnancy.” (400-800 µg of folic acid is the equivalent of about 667 to 1333 mcg DFE—making our dose of 1000 mcg DFE right in the middle.)* (1)
So yes—we dialed it back on our prenatal folate dosage to be more in line with the latest research and those recommendations, while still keeping those with genetic variations in mind. A win-win.*
What a Science-Backed Formulation Means For You
The truth? We’ll always see these kinds of formulation tweaks as a positive thing, and we hope you do, too—it just means that we’ll always continue to rely on the latest science when it comes to putting nutrient needs first. Our Essential Prenatal Multivitamin is backed by science and includes 12 key nutrients for before and during pregnancy, so all you need to think about is continuing to take the Ritual you love.*
†As a health company that adheres to standardized nutrition research—which is often reliant on assigned sex at birth—we face some unique challenges regarding our gender-specific messaging. Our decision to use gendered terms is, unfortunately, a result of these limitations in nutrition research. In cases where complying with the binary distinction is necessary for scientific accuracy purposes, we want to make it very clear that we recognize a person’s gender identity might differ from their assigned sex.