Top Sources of Folic Acid for Pre-Conception and Pregnancy - Sue Ritchie

Top Sources of Folic Acid for Pre-Conception and Pregnancy

image of key foods that are a good source of folic acid asparagus, eggs, citrus avocado, legumes, nuts, liver, leafy green vegetables

Top Sources of Folic Acid for Pre-Conception and Pregnancy

Have you just decided that you want to have a baby or maybe you are struggling to conceive?  Then what I am sharing here is very important for you to know. Ensuring you have plenty of folic acid is important in the pre-conception stage, as well as through pregnancy. Folic acid is important for our general health and wellbeing, not just if you are looking to conceive.

 What is Folic Acid and why is it important?

Folic acid (also known as folate) is actually vitamin B9. Folate is one of the B-vitamins that’s essential to your overall health throughout your life. Its synthetic form is known as folic acid. This vitamin helps with cell metabolism and the formation of new cells in your body.

Without folic acid, the body could not produce DNA (essential when it comes to making babies!) and red blood cells. For women, getting enough folic acid before conception and during early pregnancy is definitely a must, as it has been found to significantly reduce the risk of neural-tube defects (such as spina bifida) in developing babies.

This is why I am passionate about helping couples to prepare for conception. You really want to make sure that your eggs and his sperm are healthy before conception happens.  It’s important to allow a minimum of 3 months and preferably 6 months to prepare for conception. You and your partner need to be as healthy as possible at the time that you conceive.

You can find out more about why preparing for conception is so important in my blog article Preparing for Conception: Is it a necessity in the 21st Century?

Healthy Eating is important for Men too.

When you are looking to conceive it is just as important for men to be thinking about what goes into their bodies, too. Ensuring that they are eating a healthy natural wholefood well balanced diet.

That’s because good nutrition is always of benefit when trying to reproduce. There’s even some evidence showing a link between folic acid and male fertility.

In fact, one study showed that men who consume high levels of folic acid through the foods they ate (over 700 mcg a day) actually lowered their risk of sperm abnormalities by up to 20 percent. Lowered sperm abnormalities may improve pregnancy rates.

This data, however, is not conclusive, and some studies have shown no impact on male fertility by increasing folic acid. In other words, it won’t hurt men to load up on folic acid along with other vitamins and minerals, by eating a healthy natural wholefood diet. It might also have that additional benefit too of preventing any damage.

Can Folic acid improve fertility?

Folic acid can have a powerful effect on female fertility, both before and after conception. For women who are struggling to conceive, folic acid can help prevent early pregnancy defects that can lead to miscarriage.

The benefits don’t stop there. You see folic acid helps with cell metabolism throughout your body, including within your ovaries. One study on supplementation for women who were trying to conceive found that:

“Use of a folic acid supplement in women undergoing IVF helped optimize the homocysteine pathway in follicular fluid. This was associated with better embryo quality and a greater chance of becoming pregnant; a 2-fold increase of monofollicular fluid folate was associated with a 3.3 times greater chance of becoming pregnant.”

Folate also plays a large role in stress and inflammation in your body. Neither of these are helpful when you are looking to conceive.

Increased stress also causes the body to need more folate in general. Stress factors ranging from advanced maternal age to a very busy lifestyle and habit such a smoking and acohol, can impact your ability to conceive. Appropriate amounts of folic acid in your diet can help counteract effects of this stress.

 

What are the best food sources of Folate?

There are a number of key foods that are very good sources of folate.

These are some key ones to incorporate into your diet each week.

Legumes

Asparagus

Eggs

Leafy Green Vegetables

Beetroot

Brussels Sprouts

Broccoli

Nuts and Seeds

Citrus Fruits

Avocado

Romaine Lettuce (Cos)

Wheat germ

Fortified grains

Leafy green vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, wheatgerm and wholegrains are great sources of fibre. Fibre is very important part of your diet and is important for good gut health. Having a well balanced gut microbiome and good gut health is vital for fertility. Find out why and what the signs of poor gut health in my blog article The Gut Health and Fertility Connection

Some ideas to maximise your folate/folic acid intake

It is important for you to be eating some of the above in your diet every day. As with everything, variety is the spice of life. It is best to be including different things every day. Don’t just pick one or two items and stick to those.

I also recommend that you eat organic as much as possible. Vegetables do get sprayed with pesticides.  They are not helpful when you are looking to conceive. Those chemicals are harmful to our health.  Ensure that you wash your vegetables thoroughly under running water. I encourage you to see the additional cost as being an investment in you and your baby’s future health.

You could start your day with an omelette with some greens such as steamed spinach, kale or chard. Having protein for breakfast is the best way to start your day. It keeps you fuller longer.

A really good idea for a lunch would be Romaine lettuce/Cos Lettuce with some lentils or hard boiled eggs, asparagus, some spinach leaves, some avocado and top with a sprinkling of seeds with a vinaigrette dressing made with Extra Virgin Olive oil and Apple Cider Vinegar.

Supplementation

While folic acid supplementation may be a useful tool for preventing deficiency in some. It is still important to be eating the foods that contain folate. Simply, because they also have other benefits in terms of nutritional content, fibre, and the other vitamins and minerals they contain that are important for your overall health.

Preparing for conception is really important because it not only increases your chances of conceiving, it also increases the chances of having a healthy baby. Want to make sure that you are doing everything you can to optimise your chances of making your dream come true?

I am here to help you do just that.

Book a complimentary Fertility Focus call with me today and let’s have a confidential chat.

10 Surprising Things that will Boost your Fertility

10 Surprising Things that will Boost your Fertility

Leave a Comment: