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Increased Sun Exposure Requires Increased Folate Intake

Pregnant women are often take folic acid as a prenatal supplement in order to help prevent serious birth defects. A recent study suggests that women who are pregnant may need to consume more folic acid (found in supplements) and folate (found in foods) than the recommended 400 micrograms daily if they also have high exposure to vitamin D-rich sunlight.

Participants in the study included 45 healthy women between the ages of 18 and 47. Each woman was given 500 micrograms of folic acid daily for two weeks. Following the supplementation period, changes in serum folate levels and levels of sun exposure were measured for 7 days.

The researchers found that the women who had more exposure to the sun had up to 20% lower folate levels than what is recommended for a healthy pregnancy.

This is problematic because the sun is our biggest source of vitamin D, which is also essential for a healthy pregnancy. The researchers recommend that women who are pregnant speak with their health care providers in order to determine the best way to get the optimum levels of both nutrients.

Researchers from Queensland University of Technology in Australia conducted the study. It was published on February 5, 2014, in Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology.

Folate is a B vitamin that plays an essential role in the necessary functions of the human body. It has been associated with nervous system function, red blood cell formation, and hormone function. Previous studies have also found a potential link between these important vitamins and reductions in the risk of stroke, hearing loss and birth defects.

Our bodies do not naturally synthesize B vitamins. However, it is easy to increase your intake by eating more folate- rich foods. Some foods rich in folate include liver, eggs, beans, sunflower seeds, asparagus, leafy green vegetables, oranges, strawberries, cantaloupes, and other melons. Folic acid can be found in supplement form and as an additive in foods such as bread, cereal and grains.

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