Folate Fundamentals: Understanding Nutritional Needs of Vitamin B9 and Its Role in Pregnancy

September 21, 2023

Uncover the crucial role of folate in a healthy pregnancy and explore why optimizing folate intake is essential for expectant mothers. 

Getting deep into individual micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) is not the best approach to nutrition care. Food is complex. The body is complex. And to zero in on one nutrient does a disservice to you and your health. But in the case of folate during pregnancy, it’s important to highlight the need for this vitamin and why. 

Let’s delve into what folate is, explore its nutritional needs, and discuss its significance during pregnancy.

Folate, also known as vitamin B9, is one of the water-soluble vitamins that plays a crucial role in various bodily functions. It’s especially important during pregnancy due to its role in preventing birth defects and supporting maternal health.

Starting in our teen and adult years, we need 400 micrograms of folate per day. And during pregnancy this is increased to 600-800 micrograms per day, this is due to the additional demands of your developing fetus. 

As a result, most healthcare providers will recommend that people who are pregnant take a prenatal supplement in addition to a well-balanced diet rich in sources of folate. B9 is found in foods like greens (spinach and kale), legumes (lentils and chickpeas), citrus fruits, fortified cereals, and avocado.

So what is the significance of folate during pregnancy?

  • Folate is vital to the synthesis and repair of our DNA, and as a result is necessary for cell division and growth. This aids normal tissue growth during your pregnancy to optimize maternal health.
  • Folate supports the production of red blood cells, who are our transporters for oxygen throughout the body. This function helps you in the prevention of anemia during pregnancy.
  • And most significantly, folate is vital for the proper development of the neural tube, which eventually becomes the baby’s brain and spinal cord. Insufficient folate during this period can lead to neural tube defects like spina bifida.

Meeting folate nutritional needs, especially during pregnancy, is essential for both maternal and fetal health. It’s recommended to work with a healthcare provider like a Dietitian to help guide you in meeting your folate needs. Dietitians can provide personalized guidance based on your individual health and pregnancy circumstances – both in terms of diet and supplementation. To learn more about what Dining With Nature offers – take a look at our Services page.