Folate and human reproduction

Academic Article


  • The influence of folate nutritional status on various pregnancy outcomes has long been recognized. Studies conducted in the 1950s and 1960s led to the recognition of prenatal folic acid supplementation as a means to prevent pregnancy-induced megaloblastic anemia. In the 1990s, the utility of periconceptional folic acid supplementation and folic acid food fortification emerged when they were proven to prevent the occurrence of neural tube defects. These distinctively different uses of folic acid may well be ranked among the most significant public health measures for the prevention of pregnancy-related disorders. Folate is now viewed not only as a nutrient needed to prevent megaloblastic anemia in pregnancy but also as a vitamin essential for reproductive health. This review focuses on the relation between various outcomes of human reproduction (ie, pregnancy, lactation, and male reproduction) and folate nutrition and metabolism, homocysteine metabolism, and polymorphisms of genes that encode folate-related enzymes or proteins, and we identify issues for future research. © 2006 American Society for Nutrition.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Tamura T; Picciano MF
  • Start Page

  • 993
  • End Page

  • 1016
  • Volume

  • 83
  • Issue

  • 5