Folate and vitamin B12 are both essential for the conversion of homocysteine, an amino acid found in the blood, into methionine, a key component of new proteins. Without enough folate, this process becomes inefficient, leading to an increase in homocysteine levels and an increased risk of heart disease. For expectant mothers, it is important to understand the best sources of this nutrient to ensure a healthy pregnancy. Dark green leafy vegetables are some of the most reliable sources of folate.
Spinach is an excellent option, providing 58 mcg in a 1-cup serving of raw leaves and 131 mcg in a half-cup serving of cooked leaves. Mustard greens are also high in folate, with 52 mcg in a half-cup serving of boiled greens. Collard greens provide 46.4 mcg per cup when raw, and broccoli contains 57 mcg per cup when raw and 84 mcg per half-cup when cooked. If you're pregnant or planning to become pregnant, you may need to take a higher dose of folic acid than usual.
The recommended daily amount is 5 milligrams until 12 weeks into the pregnancy. Taking a vitamin that contains folic acid every day is one way to make sure you're getting enough. Most vitamins sold in the United States contain 400 mcg of folic acid, which is the recommended daily amount for women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant. It can be difficult to get the recommended amount of folate from food alone, so taking a folic acid supplement is important for ensuring a healthy pregnancy.
Vitamins can be found at most local pharmacies, grocery stores, or discount stores.