Prenatal vitamins are different, depending on the brand used and where you purchase them. One thing all prenatal vitamins have in common, however, is some form of folic acid. Folate, also known as vitamin B9, decreases chances of neural tube defects in babies when taken by women during pregnancy. Folic acid is a vitamin not naturally created by the human body, which means it must be obtained through diet or supplementation. Doctors recommend patients take folic acid early in pregnancy and even before becoming pregnant.
While there is little research to suggest that prenatal vitamins assist with IVF or reverse the symptoms of infertility, it has been proven that folic acid can reduce the risk of miscarriage for pregnant women. In a report published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, the cases of 4,752 women were investigated during first trimester. Records indicate that women who took prenatal vitamins during this stage of pregnancy were more likely to carry their babies to term.1
Prenatal Vitamins During IVF
Women who suffer from infertility, whether using IVF or trying to conceive naturally, have a higher chance of miscarriage than women who have been deemed regularly fertile. Although IVF has proven to be useful in providing infertile couples with a chance to have a perfectly healthy baby, there is always a risk involved.
With the link between prenatal vitamins and a lowered risk of miscarriage acknowledged, it makes sense that women trying to become pregnant through reproductive assistance will have a greater chance at carrying a baby to term by incorporating folate into their diets.
Men and Prenatal Vitamins
The link between females and prenatal vitamins is well documented, but what you might not realize is that there’s a chance prenatal vitamin use could also impact the sexual health of a man. Scientists have determined that further testing is required to prove this theory, but in a 2014 case study it was found that men who consumed vitamins containing zinc and folate were less likely to have abnormal sperm cells in a sperm aneuploidy test. The study went on to admit that it does not recommend the use of prenatal vitamins for men trying to conceive, only that there is a possible link.2
Natural Sources of Folate
It isn’t only prenatal vitamins that contain folate; pregnant women and women trying to conceive can get folic acid through their diets naturally Here are some foods that contain folic acid:
Dark Leafy Greens: Spinach salads or adding spinach or kale to a fruit smoothie in the morning can help increase folic acid levels. One cup of spinach has approximately 263 mcg of folic acid. The recommended dose of folic acid for women trying to conceive is 400 mcg. This means that 2 cups of spinach is enough to provide you with the same level of folic acid as a basic generic prenatal vitamin.3
Papaya: This juicy, orange, tropical fruit doesn’t have as much folate as spinach, but it can be just as useful to encourage folate levels. Containing approximately 115 mcg of folic acid per papaya, adding this fruit to your diet in combination with other folate-rich foods can increase folic acid levels and decrease the risk of miscarriage.3
Asparagus: Asparagus pairs perfectly with garlic, butter, or olive oil. One cup of asparagus after boiling consists of approximately 262 mcg of folic acid, coming very close to the dark leafy greens mentioned above. Add them as a side dish to any meal and have a second helping to raise your folate level to the required daily dose for a healthy pregnancy.
If you’re wondering about your folic acid levels, taking prenatal vitamins, or the possibility of changing your diet, speak to your doctor. He or she can offer the best advice on changes to make and how they will impact a healthy pregnancy.