According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of folate for women of childbearing age should be taking at least 400 mcg of folate per day. Folic acid (also known as folacin) is the B vitamin that is in foods and folic acid is the synthetic supplement given to ensure adequate dosage. It is strongly recommended to begin supplementing at least three months prior to conception for optimal results, but the sooner the better. Some studies show that taking it a year prior to conception can help to decrease early deliveries.
Folic acid is often found as an additive in things such as cereal, pasta, and rice. However, those who are challenged with PCOS or gluten allergies are advised to either greatly reduce or eliminate these products; therefore, supplementation becomes essential.
Of course, there are other ways to get folate and some of those sources include:
- Dark salad greens like spinach, kale, and mustard greens
- Citrus fruit, especially oranges
- Lentils, beans, chickpeas, navy beans
- Brussel sprouts
- Seeds and nuts
Folic acid supplementation in women has been shown to significantly reduce the chances of neural tube defects, such as Spina bifida as much as 70 percent. It’s not just important for women, however. A study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory showed that sperm quality and motility in men greatly improved when they took folic acid. Adequate consumption is necessary to produce the genetic materials DNA and RNA, not only of the egg but also the sperm. Folic acid helps the body produce and protect cells which is extremely important to cell division and the conception process. It also has been shown to help improve blood flow throughout the body, which helps the reproductive organs.
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