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Vitamin B9 / Folate

Treatment

Folate is the brightest star in the B-vitamin family because it has a research-proven superpower: when taken before and during early pregnancy, it helps prevent babies from being born with neural tube defects like spina bifida. The bulk of folate’s protective work occurs before people realize they’re pregnant, but of course, B9 is not just helpful for pregnancy. Everybody needs it to make DNA and other genetic material, and it also helps cells divide. People with chronic conditions may benefit from an extra dosage, because illness seems to increase your body’s need of this vital nutrient. Quick terminology explanation, because this is often confusing: B9 that naturally occurs in foods (including asparagus, brussels sprouts, spinach, oranges, nuts, and beans) is called folate. B9 as a synthetic vitamin in fortified food or supplements is called folic acid. Some supplements may have methyl-folate (5-methyl-THF, or 5-MTHF), the biologically active form of B9, instead of folic acid. You’ll see all of these terms if you start researching this vitamin!

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