Updated: Dec 18, 2020
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Super boring title, I know, but this is important for families trying to conceive, currently expecting, and in general just great information for your everyday consumer. Plus, if you want some yummy recipes I’m sharing two of my favorites at the end of this article.Here is the skinny: folate is found naturally in orange and green fruits and vegetables, whole grains, eggs, beans, seeds and nuts whereas folic acid is the synthetic version most commonly found in vitamins and flour based and processed products like cereal, bread, etc. The government started fortifying foods with folic acid in 1998, and it should be noted that there was significant drops in children born with neural tube defects since the introduction of fortification of folic acid (so it’s not all bad).
Why is it so important for pregnancy? Well, it helps neural tube development in those tiny little babies. For the general consumer, it helps with energy levels and the production of red blood cells.Here is the catch though, it is best to have a steady diet filled with folate before you even conceive for the best chance of reducing the risk of neural tube defects like spina bifida. Why? Because most people don’t realize they are pregnant until these neural tubes start being created, or have completed the process. Neural tube formation begins the third week after fertilization and is complete around 4-6 weeks.
How much folate/folic acid do I need?
Not pregnant? Get in at least 400mcg. Pregnant/nursing? 400-600mcg.
Interestingly enough, you may not be able to metabolize folic acid because of a gene that almost half of people with vaginas carry. This gene prevents the last step of conversion of folic acid, leading to unmetabolized folic acid in your blood. Large amounts of this could cause some side effects, like nausea, bloating, and gas so be aware of your body and any changes that occur during your efforts to take this vitamin in its synthetic form.
I’m all about getting the things I need through natural food sources, but if you feel the need to take folate in its synthetic form pay close attention to the labels or find a vitamin Garden of Life that ensure your body can process this important vitamin. Getting too much folate hasn’t proved harmful, but too much of its synthetic cohort may cause some adverse side effects in you but also your developing baby. New studies are being conducted on the link between excessive folic acid and autism spectrum disorder. Remember, too much of something isn’t always a good thing…even if it’s good for you!
Ok, since I know you don’t want to just sit around eating leafy greens and oranges all day, here are two recipes to test out.I will be putting this yummy avocado orange salsa on everything this summer (pictured here on top of flank steak).
Avocado and Orange Salsa
1 diced orange
1 TBSP fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Garlic to taste
Juice of 1 lime
Chop: avocado, orange, parsley, and shallot. Squeeze lime juice from fresh lime over the ingredients, add salt, pepper, and garlic to taste.I was never a fan of quinoa UNTIL I started cooking it in broth instead of water, adding in some delicious mix-ins, and serving with a yummy dressing.
Quinoa with Ginger Lime Chicken 1 package chicken thighs
1 tsp Ground ginger
1 tsp Ground garlic
Salt and pepper
Olive Oil/Coconut Oil
Organic all purpose seasoning
Frozen sweet potatoes
Frozen Lima beans (you could also use black beans, chickpeas, etc)
Place chicken thighs into a bowl, top with salt, pepper, and garlic. Zest one lime over the chicken and squeeze lime juice on top of chicken from two limes. Heat pan on stove with olive oil, when hot cook chicken until done.Cook quinoa according to package (usually 1 cup quinoa to 1 1/2 to 2 cups of liquid).Microwave sweet potatoes and Lima beans, or cook with your preferred method. Once sweet potatoes are done, mix with coconut oil (about 1 TBSP).Roast cauliflower and broccoli. Pour the frozen products out onto a sheet pan and toss with olive oil and all purpose seasoning. Broil for about 20 minutes.Shred or cut the chicken, mix all cooked ingredients together in a bowl. Squeeze remaining two limes, 1 TBSP olive oil, and salt and pepper over the top of the quinoa mixture mix together and enjoy hot or cold! You could add some maple syrup or honey to the dressing mixture for an added sweetness, only about 1 tsp.