Folic acid for fertility - Does folic acid help you get pregnant?
Women looking for the best vitamins to get pregnant faster should have folate at the top of their list.
Health practitioners have long recommended taking folic acid while trying to get pregnant. But that isn’t all that folic acid is needed for.
Folate (the natural form of folic acid) plays a critical role in both female fertility and fetal development. It is required for proper DNA synthesis and repair, control of gene expression, and numerous biological processes involved in cell division. Folate supplementation is widely used for fertility and for preventing neural tube defects (NTDs) in pregnancy.  A lack of folate prior to conception and during pregnancy has been associated with both infertility and birth defects. 
This blog will highlight the benefits of taking folic acid before pregnancy to improve fertility and prevent birth defects.
What is folic acid?
Folic acid (vitamin B9) is the synthetic form of folate. Dietary folate is naturally present in leafy green vegetables, legumes, egg yolk, and liver. Folic acid is a synthetic, man-made nutrient (i.e., not found in nature) used in supplements and fortified foods.
Folate plays an essential role in one-carbon metabolism and in the formation of DNA and RNA. It is required for protein metabolism and in breaking down homocysteine, a potentially harmful amino acid. Folate is also involved in producing red blood cells and is especially important during periods of rapid growth, such as during pregnancy and fetal development.
What is folic acid deficiency?
Folic acid deficiency occurs when folate levels in the body are too low to carry out the many processes that folate is required for. This can result in a lack of red blood cells, which may then lead to anemia. Symptoms include fatigue, mouth ulcers, low mood, and low energy. Supplementation with the bioavailable form, methylfolate, is a highly effective way to restore healthy folate levels.
Benefits of taking folic acid before or during pregnancy
• Folic acid and ovulation (preconception)
Taking folic acid tablets before pregnancy has been shown to reduce the incidence of infertility, lower the risk of pregnancy loss, and increase the success rate in infertility treatment, particularly when taken at higher doses than standard recommendations. 
• During pregnancy
Increased folic acid intake before conception is associated with a significant decrease in the prevalence of NTDs, congenital heart defects, oral clefts, and neurodevelopmental problems. 
• Folate, vitamin B12, and iron are required for healthy red blood cell formation, and taking folate can reduce the risk of developing anemia during pregnancy. 
The risk of spontaneous preterm birth is shown to decrease the longer that mothers take folate, with the lowest risk in women who take folate for one year or longer. 
Supplementation should begin in the earliest stages of pregnancy, but preferably at least one month before pregnancy. In the US, it is recommended that women of reproductive age take 400 mcg folate daily in addition to eating folate-rich food. This is because around half of pregnancies are unplanned, and folate supplementation is essential for proper development of the neural tube.
How much folic acid supplementation is recommended?
Recommended daily folic acid intake during pregnancy is 600-800 mcg. Women who have already had a pregnancy affected by a neural tube defect should take 4,000 mcg of folic acid each day one month before pregnancy and during the first 3 months. 
All other women planning pregnancy are advised to take 400 mcg to 1,000 mcg folic acid daily for at least 2 to 3 months prior to conception, throughout pregnancy, and during the postpartum period. 
NOTE: It should be noted that double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trials show that l-methylfolate is more effective than folic acid at increasing folate levels. 
How long does it take to get pregnant by taking folic acid?
A Danish study found that taking folic acid increased the chances of becoming pregnant within 12 months. 
A 2014 study involving women undergoing fertility treatment found that higher intake of supplemental folate was associated with higher fertilization rates and lower cycle failure rates before embryo transfer. 
Dietary folic acid or folate not only reduces the risk of neural tube defects but may improve the chances of getting pregnant and carrying a child to term.
Methylfolate vs. Folic Acid vs. Folate
It should be noted that l-methylfolate is the predominant form of folate used by the body. Supplementation with methylfolate during pregnancy is preferred over folic acid for its ability to bypass the MTHFR genetic mutation. Folate is also shown to be more effective than folic acid for infertility and fetal brain development, and does not carry the risk of unmetabolized folic acid syndrome (UMFA). 
Which folic acid is best for conceiving?
Methyl-Life® specializes in methylfolate supplements for pregnancy. The Methyl-Life® Methyl-folate range contains a version clinically tested as the purest form of methylfolate available to consumers, and verified as the most effective for increasing folate levels in the body.