An alternative to folic acid?

  • News
  • 06 Dez. 2023
2022 21 Projects FLRF

Folic acid supplementation is recommended during pregnancy and lactation to support infant growth and development.

Yet it increases levels of unmetabolized folic acid in human milk, prompting researchers to ask:

  • Does folic acid impact human milk composition – oligosaccharides in particular – in other important ways that could in turn impact infant growth and development?

  • Could a reduced form of folate known as 5-MTHF be better metabolized – and does it impact human milk oligosaccharide (HMO) composition?

A study investigating these questions by comparing the effects of both folate forms has just been published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The authors did not observe a difference in impact on HMO composition between supplementing with folic acid versus 5-MTHF; however, increased unmetabolized folic acid in human milk was associated with lower concentrations of total HMOs and 3’-sialyllactose.

“This study is one step towards understanding how modifiable factors impact HMOs; furthering this understanding can support infant health, as it may enable targeted interventions that can shift human milk composition towards a more favorable profile,” writes lead author Dr. Kelsey Cochrane, PhD, University of British Columbia.

Read the full findings here (‘Human milk oligosaccharide composition following supplementation with folic acid vs (6S)-5-methyltetrahydrofolic acid during pregnancy and mediation by human milk folate forms’).

Kelsey received a Trainee Expansion Program (TEP) grant in 2021, which enabled her to travel to the University of California San Diego and gain specialized HMO research training with Dr. Lars Bode.

Are you interested in learning how a TEP grant could further your research goals? Applications open on 1 August 2024. Find details here at