It's fairly well known that folic acid supplements are often recommended for women of childbearing age, especially if they are trying to become pregnant.
Folic acid is known to help prevent birth defects and miscarriage. However, did you know that men should consider upping their intake of folic acid as well?
What is Folate?
Folate and folic acid are water-soluble B vitamins. Folate occurs naturally in food, and folic acid is the synthetic form of this vitamin. Natural sources of folate are leafy green vegetables, cereals, fruit, beans and liver. A lot of processed foods are also enriched with folate. However, many of us don’t get enough folate from these sources.
In men, folate deficiency is known to reduce fertility. A new study suggests that what a father eats before conception may also affect his baby's risk of birth defects.
What the Study Says
Sarah Kimmins, Associate Professor of Reproductive Biology at McGill University and the senior author of the new study, says that right now one in 33 children are born with a birth defect and half the time, the cause is unknown. It's possible that targeting fathers could help prevent some of those defects.
"There's a perception that's no longer true, that really needs to be challenged, that the father can do whatever he wants in terms of what he eats, what kind of lifestyle he lives, whether he takes drugs or not, and this isn't going to affect whether he has a healthy child or not," she said.
"Our research really shows that this isn't the case — men really need to think carefully about the life they're living because there is a potential for an impact on the offspring."
Talk to your health care provider to see what they recommend.
The Bottom Line?
If you are planning on getting pregnant, you and your partner should both be taking folic acid and taking good care of yourselves!