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Folate and IVF


How much folate is best for a successful IVF cycle? Folate - also called vitamin B9 - is basically a generic term which includes both folic acid from supplements and naturally occurring folate from dietary sources. How much you get every day just may influence the outcome of IVF.

Women are often recommended to simply take a multivitamin, many of which contain 400 mcg of folic acid/day, in preparation for IVF, while other women may be advised to take a prenatal vitamin containing twice that amount. The question is, does the amount of folic acid/folate taken prior to IVF really make a difference?

A 2014 study (1) found that folate may tip the odds for IVF success; women with the highest levels of dietary folate - from dietary and supplementary sources combined - were found to have a significantly greater likelihood of live birth after IVF.

The study - carried out at the Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Center - assessed dietary folate intake from a food frequency questionnaire and recorded supplemental folic acid in 232 women undergoing assisted reproduction.

Higher folate levels were linked with key predictors of IVF success such as higher embryo implantation rates, clinical pregnancy and live birth rates. Live birth rates were a whopping twenty percent higher in women with the highest folate intakes - above 800 mug per day - compared to women with folate intakes less than 400 mcg daily. Higher folate intake was also linked with higher fertilization rates, a key factor for IVF success, and the study concluded:

"Higher intake of supplemental folate was associated with higher live birth rates after assisted reproductive technology treatment."

If you are undergoing assisted reproduction, ask your physician about which folic acid supplement is right for you. A prenatal vitamin may have significantly more folate than a basic multi-vitamin.

Some women, especially those with MTHFR genetic mutations may benefit from a special methylated form of folic acid, and donít forget the importance of folate from your diet! Dietary folate is an umbrella term for a variety of tetrahydrofolate derivatives, and these natural folate compounds are especially rich in dark green leafy vegetables, asparagus, avocado and dried beans and legumes - especially edamame.

A diet rich in beans and greens will easily provide at least 400 mcg of folate daily, and because folate is water soluble, there is little danger of having too much, excess is simply excreted in the urine.

This article is for informational purposes and is not intended to provide medical or dietetic advice for which you should consult a licensed physician or dietitian.


(1) Obstet Gynecol. 2014 Oct;124(4):801-9. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000000477.
Dietary folate and reproductive success among women undergoing assisted reproduction.
Gaskins AJ1, Afeiche MC, Wright DL, Toth TL, Williams PL, Gillman MW, Hauser R, Chavarro JE.
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Content copyright © 2015 by Hannah Calef. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Hannah Calef. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Hannah Calef for details.

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