Why It Is Important To Take Folate If You Are A Woman Of A Childbearing Age
Folate is a type of B vitamin, vitamin B9 to be exact. It has various roles withing the body including making DNA, repairing DNA, and producing red blood cells. Folate can be found in a variety of foods such as green vegetables, fruits, legumes, and eggs. Folate fortification of foods such as bread and cereals is now commonplace worldwide.
Since the early nineties, it has been globally recommended that pregnant women, and those who are planning to become pregnant, consume folate or folic acid (the synthetic form of folate) supplements to reduce the risk of miscarriage, neural tube defects (NTDs) and to ensure normal neurocognitive development. The World Health Organisation recommend that women should consume 400ug/d of folic acid while attempting pregnancy and until they are 3 months pregnant. Women with a high risk of NTDs are recommended to take 5mg/d (5000ug/d) (1)(2). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, folate or folic acid supplementation before and during pregnancy can reduce NTDs of the child’s brain and spine (e.g. anencephaly and spina bifida) by up to 70% (3).
Following initial publication of these guidelines, subsequent health promotion campaigns have been implemented to increase public awareness of the health benefits of folate or folic acid supplement intake, and many studies have since been carried out to evaluate their effectiveness in reducing NTDs and child developmental disorders, including cognitive development. The relationship between maternal folate or folic acid intake and/or folate blood level with cognitive development has been researched in a number of studies, with general consensus on the beneficial effects of folate or folic acid (4).
One particular study by Desirée Valera-Gran et. al has investigated the topic of high dosages of folic acid supplements during pregnancy in their relationship with neuropsychological development of children aged 4 to 5 years old, as published in their article “Effect of maternal high dosages of folic acid supplements on neurocognitive development in children at 4–5 y of age: the prospective birth cohort Infancia y Medio Ambiente (INMA) study” (5). One important finding from the study was that high dose folate supplementation is associated with reduced cognitive development in children aged 4-5 years old when taken particularly during the periconception period.
Another principle finding was that higher folate dietary consumption yielded benefits with increased specific cognitive function scoring identified, such as verbal abilities, which adds to the large body of similar evidence from other research carried out in the field (7).
Not getting enough folate can cause a deficiency in just a few weeks. A disease or genetic mutation that stops your body from absorbing or converting folate to its useable form could also cause a deficiency.
Symptoms of folate deficiency include:
- grey hair
- mouth sores
- tongue swelling
- growth problems
ROS Accovit® Performance - Women is a wide spectrum multivitamin and mineral supplement. Along with contributing towards normal energy metabolism and normal functioning of the immune system, it also contain 300ug of folate per serving, to ensure that you are receiving the recommended daily folate intake in addition to your diet.
- Botto L, Lisi A, Robert-Gnansia E, Erickson J, Vollset S, Mastroiacovo P, Botting B, Cochi G, de Vigan C et al. International Retrospective Cohort Study of Neural Tube Defects in Relation to Folic Acid Recommendations: Are the Recommendations Working?. Obstetrical & Gynecological Survey. 2005;60:563-565.
- Chatzi L, Papadopoulou E, Koutra K, Roumeliotaki T, Georgiou V, Stratakis N, Lebentakou V, Karachaliou M, Vassilaki M, Kogevinas M. Effect of high doses of folic acid supplementation in early pregnancy on child neurodevelopment at 18 months of age: the mother–child cohort ‘Rhea’ study in Crete, Greece. Public Health Nutrition. 2012;15:1728-1736.
- Cusick S, Georgieff M. The Role of Nutrition in Brain Development: The Golden Opportunity of the “First 1000 Days”. The Journal of Pediatrics. 2016;175:16-21.
- Gao Y, Sheng C, Xie R, Sun W, Asztalos E, Moddemann D, Zwaigenbaum L, Walker M, Wen S. New Perspective on Impact of Folic Acid Supplementation during Pregnancy on Neurodevelopment/Autism in the Offspring Children – A Systematic Review. PLOS ONE. 2016;11:e0165626.
- James A Greenberg, Stacey J Bell, Yong Guan, Yan-hong Yu. Folic Acid Supplementation and Pregnancy: More Than Just Neural Tube Defect Prevention. Rev Obstet Gynecol. 2011 Summer; 4(2): 52–59.
- Nyaradi A, Li J, Hickling S, Foster J, Oddy W. The role of nutrition in children's neurocognitive development, from pregnancy through childhood. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 2013;7.
- Periconceptional folic acid supplementation to prevent neural tube defects [Internet]. World Health Organization. 2018 [cited 8 December 2018]. Available from: https://www.who.int/elena/titles/folate_periconceptional/en/
- Recommendations: Women & Folic Acid [Internet]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2018 [cited 8 December 2018]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/folicacid/recommendations.html
- Valera-Gran D e. Effect of maternal high dosages of folic acid supplements on neurocognitive development in children at 4-5 y of age: the prospective birth cohort I... - PubMed - NCBI [Internet]. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. 2018 [cited 8 December 2018]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28724645
- Vitamins, supplements and nutrition in pregnancy [Internet]. nhs.uk. 2018 [cited 8 December 2018]. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/vitamins-minerals-supplements-pregnant/