You may not know exactly which nutrients are high-priority during pregnancy, but chances are you have heard about folate. This B vitamin prevents neural tube defects—deformities in baby’s brain and spine—and ACOG says you need 600 micrograms of it a day during pregnancy (and 400 micrograms per day before pregnancy). But that’s hard to get from foods alone. Most women need an extra boost in the form of a folic acid supplement—a synthetic form of folate. Newer research, however, says folate and folic acid aren’t quite created equal for every mom-to-be. Depending on your genetics, you may want to stick to folate.
It boils down to a gene called MTHFR, which we each have two copies of. When this gene behaves properly, it is responsible for producing the protein that converts folate into a form our body can actually use, called 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF). That protein, called methylfolate, also regulates metabolism. But about 40 percent of people have a mutation in at least one copy of the MTHFR gene that slows down protein production. Essentially, the body’s…
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