If you have already gone through pregnancy, you have probably heard of the benefits of folic acid. Most women are told by their physicians to take folic acid supplements once they are found to be pregnant or during the conception period, but did you know you can get the natural version of this supplement through your diet?

Folic acid is known to help prevent neural tube defects and increase birth weight in the baby. Although folic acid is the synthetic version of folate, it can still be converted by the body into usable amounts of the vitamin, but this amount is limited.

As you have probably figured by now, folate is the natural version of the nutrient and can be found in food. On top of the benefits listed above for folic acid, folate is necessary for the production of new DNA, which is needed for new cells. Since pregnancy is full of active cell division, you can see why this vitamin is important. It is good to note that the body will absorb folate better if its level of zinc is adequate.

Zinc is easily obtained from red meat, fish and seafood. If meat isn’t an option, you can find good amounts of the mineral in soybeans, eggs and pumpkin or sunflower seeds.

Since the natural form of this vitamin can easily be passed through the placenta, making folate-rich food a part of your daily diet is ideal. Your best chances at getting folate from foods are with legumes and dark leafy green vegetables.

Black bean burger with a spinach salad anyone?!

Legumes are a great source of protein to begin with but this makes them an even better protein option if you are pregnant. As for leafy greens, the darker the better. Kale, swiss chard, spinach; pick one and throw some in your smoothie, mix them in a fresh salad or pan fry them in some coconut oil for a quick side dish.

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