Folate is a form of vitamin B and is an essential nutrient for our health. Folate is naturally found in green leafy vegetables such as broccoli and spinach, asparagus, mushrooms and some organ meats. For supplementation, the synthetic form of folate is known as folic acid.
Folate is possibly best known for its importance for pregnant women and women of childbearing age. Maintaining healthy folate levels is important in preventing a birth defect known as neural tube defects. Neural tube defects occur in the brain, spine or spinal cord of the fetus and can happen in the beginning of pregnancy, sometimes before the woman is aware she is pregnant. A common neural tube defect is spina bifida, a condition where the fetal spinal column doesn’t close all the way, which can lead to paralysis in the legs.