We all know that folic acid is an essential vitamin for expecting Mamas in order to grow healthy babies! It is so critical that much of our foods are fortified or ''enriched" with folic acid. Just check the labels of your breads, rice, pasta... you'll most likely find folic acid.
Folic acid prevents severe birth defects including neural tube defects which is why you'll hardly find a prenatal vitamin anywhere without folic acid listed as a key ingredient.
It is absolutely undoubtedly essential!
Wait... but, what if it isn't?
What if it is actually toxic to nearly half of Americans?
You see, relatively new to our medical understanding is a sneaky little genetic mutation known as Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase... or MTHFR which runs off the tongue a little more easily!
Now, I have read that as many as 40% of Americans have this genetic mutation. And one of the key problems that occur with MTHFR is the body's inability to process folic acid.
Folic acid is a synthetic (i.e. man made) form of the naturally occurring vitamin, folate.
In the body of someone with MTHFR, folic acid wins out over the folate that we acquire through a healthy diet. So, not only is folic acid blocking the absorption of folate but it is also unrecognized by the body and thus useless. And, not only is it useless but it also turns toxic in the body. And the bodies of those with MTHFR typically do not flush out toxins well.
So, we could potentially have a pregnant woman with MTHFR who is taking her folic acid-loaded prenatal vitamins and eating her folic acid-enriched foods who is essentially getting next to no folic acid as it negates the folate and turns toxic in her system and just adds to the toxin load that her body already cannot flush out adequately.
That doesn't sound good!
There has to be a better way...
First off, the confounds of an expressive MTHFR mutation go much deeper than this brief blog post about folic acid. It's important to do your research. Take charge of your health care and learn how foods... or additives, could be affecting your body.
Am I recommending that pregnant women ditch their prenatal vitamins?
I am recommending that we all take an active role in our healthcare. Women can find out if they have an MTHFR mutation through a blood or saliva test. Knowledge is power.
Knowing of an MTHFR mutation may mean that a woman should avoid folic acid and ensure good amounts of folate in a form that the body can readily utilize.
I am no expert on MTHFR but have read enough to know that this is an important issue for everyone but especially for women of childbearing age as it could affect fertility and pregnancy. Or, it may not. But, a qualified health professional can help you navigate your genetic makeup and determine a good course of action to ensure good quality health!
So, is folic acid friend or foe? What are your thoughts?
On a personal note: We have been embracing a theme of getting back to our roots. Eating foods the way God created them. God didn't create folic acid.