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Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Jan;89(1):216-20. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2008.26564. Epub 2008 Dec 3.

Unmetabolized folic acid and total folate concentrations in breast milk are unaffected by low-dose folate supplements.

Author information

1
Physiology & Experimental Medicine, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, ON, Canada. lisa.houghton@otago.ac.nz

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Many lactating women in North America are exposed to high synthetic folic acid intakes because of food fortification and vitamin supplement use. Few data exist on the potential long-term effect of high folic acid intakes on milk folate concentrations, whereas no data are available on the effect of supplemental [6S]-5-methyltetrahydrofolate ([6S]-5-methylTHF).

OBJECTIVE:

The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of 3 treatments (placebo, folic acid, and [6S]-5-methylTHF) on milk folate and folate-binding protein (FBP) concentrations and to determine whether unmetabolized folic acid is present in milk.

DESIGN:

In this 16-wk randomized, placebo-controlled intervention, 69 lactating women were randomly assigned to receive [6S]-5-methylTHF (416 microg/d, 906 nmol/d) or a placebo, or were assigned to receive folic acid (400 microg/d, 906 nmol/d) within 1 wk postpartum. Total milk folate, FBP, and unmetabolized folic acid concentrations were measured at 16 wk.

RESULTS:

Unmetabolized folic acid was detected in 96% of milk samples tested representing approximately 8% of total milk folate concentrations. Total milk folate, FBP, and the proportion of unmetabolized milk folic acid did not differ between treatments; however, FBP concentrations were significantly lower than those published before mandatory folic acid fortification of the food supply.

CONCLUSION:

Maternal intake of synthetic folic acid leads to the appearance of unmetabolized folic acid in milk and, seemingly, a down-regulation of milk FBP synthesis. The impact of these changes on the bioavailability of folate in infants requires further exploration.

PMID:
19056550
DOI:
10.3945/ajcn.2008.26564
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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