Red blood cell folate concentrations increase more after supplementation with [6S]-5-methyltetrahydrofolate than with folic acid in women of childbearing age

Red blood cell folate concentrations increase more after supplementation with [6S]-5-methyltetrahydrofolate than with folic acid in women of childbearing age

Y. Lamers

Lamers Y, Prinz-Langenohl R, Bramswig S, Pietrzik K. Am J Clin Nutr 2006;84:156-161.

BACKGROUND: For the primary prevention of neural tube defects (NTDs), public health authorities recommend women of childbearing age to take 400 microg folic acid/d 4 wk before conception and during the first trimester. The biologically active derivate [6S]5-methyltetrahydrofolate ([6S]-5-MTHF) could be an alternative to folic acid. OBJECTIVE: We investigated the effect of supplementation with [6S]-5-MTHF compared with that of folic acid on red blood cell folate concentration, an indicator of folate status. DESIGN: The study was designed as a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled intervention trial. Healthy women (n = 144) aged 19-33 y received 400 microg folic acid, the equimolar amount of [6S]-5-MTHF (416 microg), 208 microg [6S]-5-MTHF, or placebo as a daily supplement for 24 wk. Red blood cell and plasma folate concentrations were measured at baseline and at 4-wk intervals. RESULTS: The increase in red blood cell folate over time was significantly higher in the group receiving 416 microg [6S]-5-MTHF/d than in the groups receiving 400 microg folic acid/d or 208 microg [6S]5-MTHF/d (P 4 wk for maximal prevention of NTDs based on folate concentrations. [6S]-5-MTHF might be an efficient and safe alternative to folic acid.

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