holistic fertility

Folate v. Folic Acid While Trying to Conceive

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So you’re trying for your miracle baby and it’s been a few months…or years.

You’ve decided it’s time to boost up your supplements and folic acid is high on the list. Everyone knows that folic acid is the key to a healthy pregnancy… or is it?

Folate can be found naturally in dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, collards as well as broccoli, lentils and other foods.

In honor of January’s National Folic Acid Awareness Week, this short article is all about the differences between folate and folic acid. More specifically, we will cover how these differences affect your ability to conceive and carry a healthy baby to term.

First of all, folate and folic acid are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same. Folate refers to the natural form of multiple water soluble B vitamins, as well as B9 itself. Folic acid, however, is a synthesized version created in the 1940’s which became a common ingredient in “fortified foods” in the late ‘90s.

Folate is indeed critical for pre-conception and prenatal care. Folate deficiencies can cause:

1. Anemia
2. Neural tube defects which affect the brain and spine in early pregnancy (the most common result is spina bifida)
3. Increased risks for cancers and other diseases

I’m just trying to take a prenatal that won’t make me constipated! Why is this so complicated?!

I’m just trying to take a prenatal that won’t make me constipated! Why is this so complicated?!

Okay, so folate is really important. But what’s the big deal about the synthetic version? Is it really that bad?

The problem with standard, unmethylated folic acid is that unlike it’s natural counterpart, it taxes the liver to be broken down. The liver cannot keep up with the amount of folic acid we consume, nor is it fully equipped to process it. Folate was traditionally broken down in the small intestines, so the liver does not have the same power to keep up with the high amounts we are consuming. As a result, we have excess folic acid.

Excess folic acid increases chances of cancer (especially colon and prostate) and it masks b12 deficiency. Most importantly for couples trying to conceive, it can increase chances of miscarriage for some couples.

People with the mutated MTHFR gene ( with some sources finding up to 40% of the population have the mutation) are at the greatest risk of folic acid usage. Folic acid usage with couples (either partner) with the gene increases chances of miscarriage and fertility problems, among other issues.

The saddest part about this problem is that folic acid is in everything. In an effort to prevent birth defects, synthesized folic acid is required in cereals and grain foods. It’s also routinely used in even high quality prenatals and preconception vitamins. So what can you do?

Research, research, research! Be sure that when choosing a fertility enhancing supplement or prenatal that the folate is sourced from whole foods and not synthesized. When looking for a vitamins, remember that “folate” is used interchangeably with folic acid on bottles. Be sure to check the label to see which form they have included.

Find a vitamin that uses folate (derived from foods like the ones listed below) or a methylated version.

Folate can be found naturally in dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, collards as well as broccoli, lentils and other foods. These should make up a huge part of your pre-conception care diet!

If you need more help figuring out the right supplementation or need a whole built-for-you fertility plan to take you from trying to conceive to pregnant, set up a consultation. Our fertility coach can help you find the right supplements and guide you through our 12 week process of getting pregnant faster. If you’re in the New Orleans/Kenner area: you’re in luck! We’re having another 12-week group workshop series starting April 1. You can get more information here.

Love, light and baby dust

Your Fertility is More Than Just Your Ovaries + Uterus

     Too many times when we talk about our fertility we reduce ourselves to pieces and parts. What's more, we blame our body parts for not working right. For some it's not enough eggs, a uterus that isn't cooperating, or a cycle that's unregulated. When you are frustrated it can feel as though your body is working against you, sabotaging your dream of becoming a mother.

     I understand how easy it is to get caught up in this mindset of both blaming your body and simplifying your fertility issues. After all, not everyone is lucky enough to have a diagnosis for their fertility struggles. You may have been wondering for some time or gone through a barage of tests to finally get some answers. After everything you've been through, it's nice to have something specific to blame for your difficulties conceiving.

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     As convenient as it may be to blame pieces and parts of your body for your fertility struggles, I invite you to shift your focus to a wider view. Your reproductive outcomes are influenced by more than just your reproductive organs. A balanced fertility is a result of multiple bodily processes, which are influenced by innumerable outside influences. Optimal fertility is a result of optimal health. When you limit your scope to just your reproductive system or just your reproductive organs, you are eaving out big picture issues that have a big impact on your fertility.

     Of course I don't mean to throw away diagnoses or test results that pinpoint your specific issues. Rather, you should use these diagnoses as signs pointing you in the right direction towards healing your whole self. Your bodily systems are all connected. If your reproductive system is not functioning well, your body is telling you that something is off balance, something is not right. When you address the underlying issues affecting your fertility you improve your quality of life. Balancing your overall health will benefit you long beyond your reproductive years. 

     Your overall health, genetic makeup, reproductive history, family history, and lifestyle greatly influence your fertility. While you can't control your history, you can make lifestyle choices that have a positive effect on your future. For example, PCOS is one of the most common fertilty issues that affect women. The underlying issue of PCOS is not the cysts themselves, but the hormone imbalance that causes them to proliferate. While there is a genetic component involved, managing your diet can greatly improve the symptoms of PCOS. Managing insulin levels by eating less simple sugars, balancing carbohydrates and proteins, and eating regularly improve symptoms of PCOS like irregular hair growth, headaches and sleep patterns. Managing your insulin will also have a positive effect on your metabolism, moods, energy levels, and more. This is an example of how your fertility is linked to your overall health. 

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     You may already know the connections between nutrition and fertility, but were you aware of other factors? Other lifestyle factors such as your emotional state, sleep patterns, exposure to toxins, menstrual hygiene products, and coping mechanisms have a big impact on your fertility as well. 

Have you considered any of these topics when examining your fertility issues?

  • history of sexual trauma

  • history of generational/collective trauma

  • history of mental/emotional/physical trauma

  • history of birth control use

  • history of eating disorders

  • depression, anxiety, PTSD or other mental health issues

  • the longterm effects of racism / sexism / homophobia / etc.

  • irregular sleep patterns

  • irregular eating patterns

  • consumption of sugar/transfats/processed foods

  • overall diet - what it's missing and what it has in excess

  • dairy consumption

  • quality of vitamins and supplements

  • the toxicity of your menstrual hygiene products

  • the toxicity of your makeup/bodycare/cleaning products

  • the effects of your prescription/ OTC medications

  • quality and quantity of water you drink

  • gut health / antibiotic use

  • history of vaccinations, especially gardasil

  • exercise- too much, too little, what type

  • stress levels at work

  • overuse of technology

  • family pressures and expectations to become a mother

  • frustration within relationships

  • unresolved anger/frustration

  • self-love and self-care practices

  • exposure to environmental toxins

  • perfectionism

  • fear of failure

  • overwhelm / lack of down time

  • relationship with partner

  • family's reproductive history

  • self-doubt

      This list is only a small sample of all the ways your lifestyle and history can affect your fertility. I hope you will take the time to reconsider the way you perceive your fertility. Understand firstly that your body is not the enemy. Next, look into the ways your fertility is connected to other aspects of your life, and see where you can make adjustments to find balance.  

If you are looking to balance your fertility hollistically, but need help developing a plan that will work for you and sticking to it, schedule a call with me. I would love to help you get pregnant.

Kaci
Queen Bee Fertility