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Because of one or more defects in their MTHFR gene, about 50 percent of women in the U.S are unable to methylate or utilize folate as well. When women can’t fully convert folic acid into folate, they may not be getting the most benefit from folic acid to prevent neural tube defects.

If you’re planning a pregnancy or you’re already pregnant, chances are your doctor told you to take a prenatal vitamin with folic acid to prevent neural tube defects like spina bifida and anencephaly. Yet new research shows that this recommendation may not be a one-size-fits-all approach and may increase the chances that your baby could be born with birth defects.

What are experts saying now about folic acid, and what do they recommend women should take instead?

Should you skip prenatal vitamins with folic acid3

“When they take regular folic acid in a prenatal vitamin, it doesn’t become an active form of folic acid,” said Dr. Sara Gottfried, an obstetrician and gynecologist in Berkeley, Calif., and author of the New York Times bestseller “The Hormone Cure.”

Instead, by taking MTHF directly, “You’re bypassing the way the gene will either make you or reduce your ability to methylate the folic acid,” Gottfried said.

Related post: Top 10 Foods to Enhance Fertility (and what to avoid)

You can find out if you have the MTHFR genetic variants through genetic testing. Many women get tested when they find out they’re pregnant or if they’re struggling with infertility, but it’s better to be proactive and get the testing beforehand if you want to know for sure, Gottfried said.

Yet experts say, even if you don’t get tested, it’s a good idea to take MTHF because not only are the MTHFR gene variants common, but environmental toxins and lifestyle choices (diet, weight, stress) can affect methylation as well.

MTHF can also help with anemia, which is common for many women during pregnancy.

Christianson recommends his patients take a supplement of 1,000 micrograms of MTHF as well as 400 to 800 micrograms of folate. Additionally, if you’ve had several miscarriages or have a family history of neural tube defects, MTHF is likely to be better for you.

Find out more:

Should you skip prenatal vitamins with folic acid?

 
Learn more about Methylation from Chris Kresser, L.Ac., author of Healthy Baby Code and Your Personal Paleo Code: The 3-Step Plan to Lose Weight, Reverse Disease, and Stay Fit and Healthy for Life

11 Brilliant Hacks To Living A Happier Life
This Mom's Kids Exposed What She 'Really' Looks Like, And Her Reaction Is PERFECT!

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