Is Folic Acid Hurting Your Baby?

If you are breastfeeding your baby and you consume FOLIC ACID daily you could be stunting the future of your child.

I’m sorry if that is a shocking statement to you. But since it’s National Breastfeeding AWARENESS Month, I felt it was the most important message I could share with you.

Dr. Ben Lynch, ND, the leader in nutrigenomics and methylation research interpretation and my trusted resource for many years now,  stated in an interview with Dave Asprey –

“There is a high, high concentration of folate binding proteins in breast milk, which makes sense because these babies are growing at a high rate. Because they are growing super fast, their methylation status is heightened.”

Let me interrupt that train of thought by quickly defining what he means by methylation, a word you might not be familiar with. To keep this as simple as possible, methylation is an epigenetic biochemical process used by our cells and I’ve heard someone say that it’s like little on/off switches controlling our gene expression. It’s absolutely vital to a number of cellular processes, one of those being development of the embryo. It is so central to all of our body systems, that it’s like trying to explain what “breathing” is. But methylation occurs even more than breathing, billions of times every single second!

So back to Dr. Ben…

“If women who are breastfeeding are taking folic acid based supplementation, they are blocking the ability to deliver the folate to their nursing child, and this hinders their thinking; they can’t produce neurotransmitters, and it hinders their methylation and growth.”

So how could this be?

We all have folate receptors (your baby too). The synthetic form of folate is called folic acid but it’s commonly used interchangeably with the word folate. But they are not interchangeable.

Folic acid (the synthetic form of Vitamin B9) actually binds to our folate receptors. Have you ever been drinking a healthy smoothie through a straw and a piece of fruit gets sucked up and blocks the smoothie from flowing through the straw? That’s kind of what folic acid does to our folate receptors. When the good form of folate comes along (found naturally in dark leafy greens, chicken liver, and other foods as well as supplements with a high quality methylated form of folate) it won’t be able to get into our folate receptors because they’re all clogged up with folic acid.

There are tons of research papers on this so please go to pubmed and search if you’re interested in the nerdy stuff. Functional Medicine practitioners, alternative and holistic medicine providers, and Naturopaths have brought awareness to this problem (even WellnessMama who is a must-follow if you’re a mama). My goal is not to go into detail here and explain the mechanism from a biologic, scientific, or epigenetic perspective. I’ll leave that to the experts. But I just wanted to bring AWARENESS to this very important topic. Especially since August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month in the United States and the entire world celebrates breastfeeding during the first week of August.

Most doctors, even OB-GYNs are not aware of the differences between folic acid and folate. Don’t blame them. They are busier than a one-armed paper hanger and when do they have time to read the latest research?

If you’re pregnant or trying to become pregnant, you’ve probably been prescribed a prenatal with folic acid.

Most of us just assume if our government says to take folic acid the first 3 months of pregnancy and our doctor prescribes a prenatal with folic acid, they know what they’re talking about, they’re the experts so – who am I to argue or even ask questions?

Well. You are the PARENT or soon-to-be parent of an unborn child. And the well being of that child is your greatest responsibility. That’s who you are. And that’s why you MUST ask questions. If you are being prescribed folic acid, then I strongly encourage you to check out my resources below, then share some of them with your doctor. If they take the time to check your resources out, then they will thank you. If they do not take the time, then you need to find another doctor. Your health and your baby’s health is too important to shrug this off as no big deal.

It is a big deal.

It is a HUGE deal!

Do you know if you have MTHFR?

No, I’m not being vulgar – not that kind of girl! But a lot of people do a double take when they read that. I refer again to my go-to expert on this topic, Dr. Ben Lynch, who has a website you should go visit, MTHFR stands for the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase gene (good Scrabble word). Let’s break that down to make it easier to say ….. methyl-ene-tetra-hydro-folate-reductase. Easier. Right?

To confuse matters, not only is there a gene named that but there’s also an enzyme named that. Sometimes those get interchanged. Dr. Ben says the MTHFR gene is responsible for making a functional MTHFR enzyme. If the MTHFR gene is slightly altered (mutated), the MTHFR enzyme’s shape becomes distorted and that’s a problem because the enzyme function depends a lot on the shape. He says it’s similar to the grooves on a key. If the grooves on a key are slightly different than the lock, the key may fit and turn the lock a little but it does not unlock the door. In the same way, the genetic code of the MTHFR enzyme must be perfect in order for it to function properly. He says a dysfunctional MTHFR enzyme may lead to a slew of health problems. Being able to process folic acid is one of those.

Not to get bogged down in all of this technical stuff, but the point I want to make here is that approximately half the population has a mutation in the MTHFR gene. Some have inherited one mutated gene from their mother and one from their father. This is going to reduce their methylation function considerably depending on whether they have one copy or two copies. It’s going to have to work a lot harder to convert that folic acid into a form that can be used.

Even if you don’t have MTHFR mutations,

folic acid is bad

because it binds your receptors

and it blocks your body’s ability to carry folate.

Medical Disclaimer:

I am not a doctor. I am NOT telling you to stop taking folic acid prescribed by your doctor. I would never recommend discontinuing something your doctor prescribed unless you have discussed it with them. Please do not misunderstand my intentions. I am bringing awareness to this FOLIC ACID topic so you can consider it and, after you’ve done your own research, then decide if it’s something you want to discuss with your doctor.

But what about neural tube defects?

Since the mid-1990s, governments and health organizations around the world have adopted policies designed to increase women’s intake of the B-vitamin ‘folic acid’ before and during the first weeks of pregnancy.[1] Yes, there was a substantial decrease in neural tube defects but there is newer research. The very sad part about our food supply being fortified with folic acid is that it was a “fix” for a small percentage of the population at the cost of harming a larger percent of the population who, genetically, have a problem processing folic acid.

There’s a better way to optimize your future child!

I don’t want to just leave you hanging and wondering where you’re supposed to go from here. I want you to take advantage of the new research. And that’s why I want to point you in the right direction. All of these resources are from Dr. Ben Lynch whose passion is protecting the health of unborn children and optimizing their chance to thrive.

Please help spread the awareness. Share this with someone you know who is pregnant, thinking about getting pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning on breastfeeding. And please … share it with your doctor!

Was this information new to you? Let us know how it made a difference in your life or in the life of someone you love.

Prenatal Supplementation – Optimizing Your Future Child

I’d suggest your first stop be here to read an article from Dr. Ben Lynch and listen to his less-than-30-minute YouTube, Folic Acid and Pregnancy: Is Folic Acid the Right Choice?

Prenatal Conference Course:

Maternal and Pediatric Implications due to MTHFR and Methylation Dysfunction

This scientifically-backed, irrefutable 90 minute presentation empowers you to significantly reduce the risk of countless problems – including autism, down syndrome, neural tube defects, congenital heart defects and others.

Folic Acid is Affecting You Negatively

A full hour video that goes more in depth. Some of the questions addressed in the video are:

  • What are the different types of folate?
  • How are they processed in the body?
  • How does synthetic folic acid contribute to disease and dysfunction in the body?
  • How to prepare for pregnancy?


  1. Stud Hist Philos Biol Biomed Sci. 2014 Sep; 47: 278–289.PMCID: PMC4275593
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