It’s taken four pregnancies to discover that I might have been taking the wrong kind of folic acid. Many of us do, apparently, as the supplements found on the shelves in chemists aren’t in a form our bodies can process.
Folic acid helps your unborn baby’s brain, skull and spinal cord develop properly to avoid development problems such as spina bifida, which is why pregnant women are advised to take it.
However, many folic acid supplements, along with dietary folate found in leafy green vegetables, egg yolks and citrus fruits, aren’t in the active from and must be converted into it by the body.
For some people, particularly European women, the process is inefficient or non existent due to their genetic patterns and they do not produce adequate or effective MTHFR. You can read up about it here.
There are tests you can take to determine whether or not you are producing MTHFR. Or you can just hedge your bets by making sure you’re taking an active supplement.
It was Heidi Nollanway, of the Milk Practice, who first pointed me in the direction of the active form of folic acid, methylfolate (5-methyltetrahydrofolate or 5-MTHFR). She recommends Optimal Prenatal , while another option is Wild Nutrition Food-Grown Pregnancy, which contains natural folate.
I was interested to discover today, however, that Better You has started making a folic acid spray.
I love their sprays: we’re all taking their vitamin D spray (it comes in various strengths including one suitable for babies) and I took the iron spray, too, while I was pregnant (until I was put onto a much higher dose of ferrous sulphate due to anaemia, which from what I’ve read, could have been to do with inadequate MTHFR… who knows).
The Better You spray is structurally analogous to the reduced and active form of folic acid. This allows it to bypass the faulty MTHFR conversion step to deliver an active folate the body can use immediately without metabolisation.
According to the experts at Better You, methylfolate is not only useful for those with folate metabolism disorders such as MTHFR gene mutation, it also ensures there is no unmetabolised folic acid circulating in the body, unlike the synthetic form which can be unused, leaving the body through urine.
Hope this info might be helpful to some mums to be!