Folate, one of the B vitamins, is also considered to be one of the most important nutrients during pregnancy. It helps the formation of red blood cells and helps the normal development and growth of the fetus.
In terms of the folate supplements for pregnancy, there are two main sources: one is synthetic folic acid, the other is active folate (5-Methyltetrahydrofolate; 5-MTHF). Active folate (5-MTHF) is the same as the folate naturally found in food, and it is also the form of folic acid mainly found in human blood and cerebrospinal fluid. Due to the low price, synthetic folic acid is often used in nutritionally fortified foods, such as breakfast cereals, or many nutritional supplements, such as multivitamin or B-complex. Artificially synthesized folic acid needs to be converted into an active form in the body before it can be used by the body. Unfortunately, many people are incapable of converting folate into an active form.
If the general synthetic folic acid cannot be metabolized after consumption, it will continue to accumulate in the blood and result in "UMFA syndrome”. Especially the use of high doses may produce many serious sequelae, including immune dysfunction or tumor hyperplasia (especially colorectal cancer and prostate cancer), etc. UMFA Syndrome could also affect the binding of normal active folate to the folate receptor and folate transporter in the body, causing the body to be unable to truly utilize folate.
Active folate includes two forms : the third-generation calcium salt and the fourth-generation Glucosamine salt. At present, the third-generation calcium salt form of folic acid is still an illegal ingredient in Taiwan because it has not passed the sanitation by Security assessment of the Department of Welfare Department. The fourth-generation active folate – Quatrefolic is safe, and its solubility and absorption rate after consumption are much better than the third-generation. It has also been approved as an edible food ingredient in Taiwan. For women trying to conceive or during pregnancy, supplementing active folate is a more effective choice, which can ensure the normal development and growth of the fetus better.