Folate is found in green vegetables, corn, beets, nuts and seeds, legumes, peas, and beans, as well as liver and eggs. There are tremendous health benefits of folate, from lowering the risk of heart disease to promoting fetal development and healthy pregnancy. A form of vitamin B9, the nutrient can help prevent depression, benefit the liver and kidneys, and boost the immune system. Though similar to folic acid, folate is naturally produced and present in a number of foods. Folic acid, on the other hand, is synthesized in a lab and can lead to toxicity issues if not processed properly by the body. Folate is largely harmless, as the body can process excesses in nearly all cases.
Folate plays a vital role in fetal cell growth during the embryonic phase. The chance of many fetal abnormalities is lessened considerably when women ingest a healthy amount of folate. Numerous studies show folate and folic acid can reduce the risk of neural tube defects (NTDs) by as much as 60%. Congenital heart defects can also be prevented when potential mothers take a multivitamin containing folate before conception. Additionally, folate and folic acid can help increase the length of the gestation stage, lower the risk of premature birth, and increase birthweights.
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