It is so common that if a person wants to get pregnant, their gynae will tell them to start taking Folic Acid. In recent years, there is more awareness of the fact that Folate Acid is better to consume.
Vitamin B9 is an essential nutrient and if it is low it can increase the risk of having too much homocysteine, birth defects and some cancer types.
What is Folate Acid?
Folate is the naturally active form of B9, also known as levomefolic acid or 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF). In our digestive system, most dietary folate is converted into 5-MTHF before entering your bloodstream. It is an essential nutrient for DNA replication and a range of enzymatic reactions involved in amino acid synthesis and vitamin metabolism. During pregnancy, it is essential for the embryo development and Folate deficiency has been associated with abnormalities in both mother and fetus. Folate is one of the 13 essential vitamins. The body cannot synthesize it and we must get it from nutrition or by supplementing ourselves. It is found in food such as leafy greens, legumes, eggs yolk, liver and citrus fruit.
Recent studies show that Folate also plays an important part in the maturation of the egg, meaning it has an impact on the quality of the egg. It is important for making new DNA and proteins and also has a role in detoxification. When we get Folate, it needs to be converted into the biologically active l-methylfolate by the enzyme methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR). Methylfolate has many roles but the most important is detoxification. There are certain variations in the MTHFR gene that reduce the activity of the enzyme that produces methylfolate from other forms of Folate, which in turn will reduce the amount of Folate that is available for detoxification. That can be an issue as homocysteine might accumulate and excess of it is thought to contribute to infertility and miscarriages.
What is Folic Acid?
Folic Acid is a synthetic form of vitamin B9 that is lab-made and also added to processed food. Unlike Folate, not all of the Folic you consume is converted into the active form of vitamin B9-5-MTHF in your digestive system. Instead, it needs to be converted in your liver or other tissues which can slow down the whole process and might be insufficient for some people. There are some foods that interfere with Folic Acid that might interfere with this process. Unmetabolized Folic Acid is not a healthy thing as it can increase the risk of cancer and B12 deficiency. Recent studies show that a sustainable amount of synthetic Folic Acid remains unmetabolized and unable to be used. Furthermore, if it accumulated at high levels, it may interfere with the uptake of mythylfolate.
This is why I think that a few months before you are actively trying to get pregnant, you and your partner should take Folate because if your partner is deficient in Folate, it might increase DNA damage within the sperm.