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The Importance of Folate for Men and Women Trying to Conceive 
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The Importance of Folate for Men and Women Trying to Conceive 

There’s no denying the power of nutrition, especially when you’re trying to conceive. While several nutrients help support your fertility, this blog is all about one: folate.

Folate impacts both male and female fertility, so it’s a key nutrient for any couple trying to conceive.* Keep reading to learn the basics of folate, how it benefits fertility, and how you can make sure you get enough each day.

What is folate?

Also known as vitamin B9, folate is an important member of the B-vitamin family. It plays a vital role in healthy cell growth and division, and your body also uses folate to make DNA and other genetic materials.*

What are the benefits of folate for male fertility?

Male fertility is just as important as female fertility – it takes two, after all. There are a few main factors that impact male fertility: sperm count (the number of sperm), motility (how well sperm move), and morphology (sperm shape).

So, how can folate help? Research suggests that folate can help support healthy sperm count, especially when combined with zinc, another important male fertility-focused nutrient.*

Ready to tackle sperm motility and morphology? Take a look at this article to learn about other nutrients that can help support sperm quality and overall fertility: “Do Men Need a Prenatal, Too?”

What are the benefits of folate for female fertility?

For women, folate puts in overtime when you’re trying to conceive, and especially during early pregnancy.

Just think about how pregnancy starts: with a single cell. After the strongest sperm meets the egg and fertilizes it, that single cell divides over and over again, developing into an embryo that will continue to grow rapidly until your delivery date. Because folate plays a huge role in healthy cell growth and division, it makes sense that folate is involved from the very beginning – from that very first cell.*

Healthy neural tube development also depends on folate.* The neural tube, which later develops into the brain and spinal cord, forms within the first few weeks of pregnancy – often before a woman even knows she’s pregnant. Healthful diets with adequate folate may reduce a woman’s risk of having a child with a brain or spinal cord birth defect.*

How much folate do men and women need?

Men and women often have different nutrient requirements, but not for folate. At baseline, both men and women need about 400 mcg dietary folate equivalents (DFE) per day. But, folate needs increase to 600 mcg DFE for women during pregnancy, and higher doses may also be recommended for men to promote male fertility.*

You’ll find folate in a wide variety of foods, including leafy green vegetables, fruit (especially oranges), beans, and peanuts. Be sure to include a variety of folate-rich foods in your diet each day to help meet your folate needs.

Folate supplements can also help you boost your folate intake and ensure you get enough of this important nutrient while you’re trying to conceive.

Should you take a folate supplement?

Because folate is so crucial during the early stages of pregnancy, most experts recommend a supplement with folate for all women of reproductive age. If you’re trying to conceive, make sure you’re taking a high-quality preconception or prenatal vitamin with folate – most have you covered with at least 600 mcg DFE.

What about men? Should they take a folate supplement, too? While folate is beneficial on its own, several different nutrients contribute to male fertility. So, consider adding a high-quality male fertility supplement (that includes folate) to your daily routine to support healthy sperm quality.*

As you continue your path towards parenthood, be sure to talk with your healthcare provider about your plans to start a family and focus on healthy lifestyle habits, like a well-balanced diet and regular physical activity. And of course, keep folate in mind. It’s just one piece of the fertility puzzle, but it’s an important one for both men and women.



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