Monday, July 17, 2006

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

Yvonne Lamers, Reinhild Prinz-Langenohl, Susanne Brämswig and Klaus Pietrzik
1 From the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences, Pathophysiology of Nutrition, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany

Background: For the primary prevention of neural tube defects (NTDs), public health authorities recommend women of childbearing age to take 400 µg 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 µg folic acid, the equimolar amount of [6S]-5-MTHF (416 µg), 208 µg [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 µg [6S]-5-MTHF/d than in the groups receiving 400 µg folic acid/d or 208 µg [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.
Key Words: Red blood cell folate • 5-methyltetrahydrofolate • folic acid • preconception supplementation • neural tube defect

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