Folic acid has long been known for drastically reducing the risk of neural tube defects in babies, but new research sheds light on possible consequences of the “if some is good, more is better” approach to supplementation. In a recent study, scientists investigated the effects of moderate folic acid supplementation on reproductive outcomes in mice.
Female mice were fed either folic acid-supplemented or control diets before and during pregnancy. Researchers found that in female mice with a certain genetic deficiency involved in methylation (called MTHFD1 R653Q), the incidence of embryonic defects and developmental delays actually increased when given supplemental folic acid, compared to mice on a control diet. These findings suggest gene-nutrient interactions (in this case, folic acid with MTHFD1 R653Q), thereby complicating recommendations for supplemental nutrients during pregnancy. Assessing your micronutrient levels before and during pregnancy with a SpectraCell Micronutrient Test is a convenient way to discover and replete micronutrient deficiencies before they become a problem, which can benefit both mother and child.
For additional reading refer to the abstract, Moderate folic acid supplementation and MTHFD1-synthetase deficiency in mice, a model for the R653Q variant, result in embryonic defects and abnormal placental development, published in the November 2016 issue of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.