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Here’s How Much Folate to Look for in a Prenatal Multivitamin

3 min read

Here's how much folate to look for in a prenatal multivitamin.
Here's how much folate to look for in a prenatal multivitamin.

It’s a nice thought that once we land on a quality multivitamin formula, we can sit back and pat ourselves on the back for a job well done, right? Well, this also isn’t reality—science is ever-evolving, and staying at the forefront of the latest research means that our formulas sometimes evolve, too.

Exhibit A is our Essential Prenatal, which recently underwent some key adjustments of its own—like the folate levels we include in our prenatal multivitamins, which will now be formulated with 1000 mcg DFE per serving, down from 1700 mcg DFE per serving.*

You can rest assured that this new amount is still 167% of the recommended daily intake for pregnant and lactating women. It’s just a classic case of less is more: Our science team came to the conclusion that there was no real benefit to including quite so much folate, even for those who might be more vulnerable to gaps.*

But first, a folate refresher

For starters, folate is a nutrient we should all aim to get on a daily basis: It supports DNA synthesis and methylation, along with red blood cell formation. But this nutrient becomes all the more essential when we’re pregnant or trying, thanks to its important role in neural tube development and cell division. And while folate can be found in foods like leafy greens and citrus fruits, diet isn’t always a reliable way to meet our daily folate needs.*

That’s where supplementation can come in handy. The caveat? Many supplements use folic acid, the synthetic form of folate. To process folic acid, we require the help of the MTHFR enzyme. The concern is that up to one-third of the population have a genetic variation which can make it difficult to efficiently utilize folic acid. It’s why we opt for methylated folate in our multivitamins—to bypass the MTHFR genetic variation.*

The latest science

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 newest formulation? “Since a proportion of women, 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 Senior Director of Scientific Affairs. “Also, The US Preventative 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 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 it 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 your nutrient needs first. Your newest Essential Prenatal deliveries will feature these latest updates, so all you need to think about is continuing to take the Ritual you love.*

References:

  1. Recommendation: Folic Acid...: United States Preventive Services Taskforce. (2017, January 10). Retrieved from USPST

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Meet our experts

This article features advice from our science team.

Dr. Marie Caudill

Dr. Marie Caudill, PhD, RD, Professor at Cornell University

Dr. Marie Caudill PhD, RD is a professor at Cornell University specializing in Nutritional Sciences and a member of Ritual's Scientific Advisory Board. She is internationally recognized for her work on folate and choline, and has published over 150 papers, reviews, and chapters in these areas. She is frequently an invited speaker on topics related to the importance of choline nutrition during pregnancy and lactation.

Dr. Marie Caudill

Dr. Marie Caudill, PhD, RD, Professor at Cornell University

Dr. Marie Caudill PhD, RD is a professor at Cornell University specializing in Nutritional Sciences and a member of Ritual's Scientific Advisory Board. She is internationally recognized for her work on folate and choline, and has published over 150 papers, reviews, and chapters in these areas. She is frequently an invited speaker on topics related to the importance of choline nutrition during pregnancy and lactation.

Science Thumb — Mastaneh

Dr. Mastaneh Sharafi, PhD, RD, Senior Director, Scientific Affairs

Dr. Mastaneh Sharafi has a PhD in Nutritional Sciences and is a Registered Dietitian. She received her training from Penn State University and University of Connecticut where she researched dietary patterns, chemosensory perception and community nutrition. Her dietetic work is focused on promoting healthy eating habits by translating the science of nutrition into practical information for the public.

Science Thumb — Mastaneh

Dr. Mastaneh Sharafi, PhD, RD, Senior Director, Scientific Affairs

Dr. Mastaneh Sharafi has a PhD in Nutritional Sciences and is a Registered Dietitian. She received her training from Penn State University and University of Connecticut where she researched dietary patterns, chemosensory perception and community nutrition. Her dietetic work is focused on promoting healthy eating habits by translating the science of nutrition into practical information for the public.