Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate, a B vitamin, which is abundant in green vegetables. Folate protects against birth defects known as neural tube defects (NTDs). Pregnant women could safely increase their folate status and prevent NTDs by eating green vegetables, but instead they are instructed to take folic acid supplements, putting them and their children at risk. Folic acid supplements are not a substitute for folate-containing green vegetables – there are inverse associations between maternal vegetable intake and childhood cancers. 12-13
Unlike synthetic folic acid, folate obtained from food sources – especially green vegetables – protects against breast and prostate cancer.
There is inverse relationship between dietary folate intake and breast and prostate cancer. 4,3 Chemical differences between folate and folic acid translate into differences in uptake and processing of these two substances by the cells in the intestinal wall – excess folic acid in the circulation can occur. Luckily, folate from food comes naturally packaged in balance with other micronutrients and the body regulates its absorption. 9
Rich sources of food folate
As a reference point, the U.S. RDA for folate is 400μg. Below is the approximate folate content for a 100-calorie serving. 8
Supplemental folic acid has also been linked to prostate cancer3, colorectal cancer4, and overall cancer mortality.7 Because folate is abundant in the nutritarian diet, and synthetic folic acid is so potentially dangerous, folic acid is not included in Dr. Fuhrman’s Gentle Caremultivitamin.
Dr. Fuhrman does not recommend prenatal vitamins because of the potentially harmful ingredients, such as folic acid.
Dr. Fuhrman’s special recommendations for pregnant women: