Pregnancy alone can be very overwhelming, especially if you’re a first time mum. Trying to go about your day as normal whilst trying to manage the occasional symptom can feel like a task all on its own. Taking advice from your trusted medical professional is to be expected but when did everyone else suddenly become an expert? If there’s one thing I’ve learnt, it’s to never trust anyone with a Google degree! Educating yourself on what’s best for you and your baby is definitely encouraged but just like everything else during this time, it shouldn’t bring about unnecessary stress. If you’ve heard about the importance of folate during pregnancy and lactation and want to know more, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll have you know that just like folate, we’re also a sought after source!



Folate is a B group vitamin required for healthy growth and development. It is referred to as “folate” when found naturally in food such as leafy green vegetables, fruits whole grains and legumes. “Folic acid” is the synthetic form of folate which is added to foods such as bread and breakfast cereals or used in dietary supplements.  Folate has many important functions during pregnancy and lactation which is why it’s considered one of the most crucial minerals during this critical period.


1. Neural tube defects

Neural tube defects (NTDs) are common intricate birth defects pertaining to the central nervous system that occur due to the failure of the neural tube closure during embryogenesis, including anencephaly (when a baby is born without parts of the brain or skull), encephalocele (formation of a sac containing cerebrospinal fluid outside of the skull) and spina bifida (a condition in which there is insufficient formation of the spine and spinal cord)¹.

Zhang et al. noted that serum concentrations of folate from pregnant women with NTDs were considerably lower than those in control pregnant women and folate intake insufficiency (below 7.01 nmol/L in serum) heightened the risk of NTDs¹. This is also due to the fact that folate deficiency alters the normal biological functions of the cell, resulting in the weakening of genomic stability which leads to further irreparable DNA damage¹.


2. Maternal tissue growth

Like many other nutrients, folate requirements increase during pregnancy to account for the growing foetus. The need for these elevated levels are critical in aiding optimal growth and development of both maternal and foetal tissues². This is also as a result of rapid cell division as the embryo further develops.


3. Birth outcomes

While science is always evolving as new findings surface, there have been documented correlations between folate and certain birth outcomes. Multivitamin supplements with iron and folic acid are linked with fewer onsets of low birthweight and small for gestational age³. Preterm birth (PTB) is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “all births before 37 completed weeks of gestation or fewer than 259 days since the first day of a woman’s last menstrual period”⁴.  Supplementation before conception and during early pregnancy may lower the risk of miscarriage, low birth weight, pre-eclampsia, small for gestational age, stillbirth, neonatal death and autism in children⁵.



A breastfeeding mother is responsible for the provision of all the hydration and nutrients that a growing baby requires for the first 4 to 6 months of life. Folate concentrations are consistent in breastmilk during the first 3 to 5 months of lactation⁶. As folate concentrations increase in the circulation of the infant over time, concentrations begin to decline in maternal circulation as lactation continues⁶. Mums should ensure that their diets are sufficient in folate so that their baby is able to benefit from this during lactation.

Even though the baby is now outside the womb, they are still growing and developing on many levels. Such growth still requires optimal nutrition and it is important to remember that during the first few months, you as the mum are their only source of these vital nutrients. 



Folate requirements for pregnant women are 400 μg/day and it is actually recommended that women take folic acid supplementation for at least 3 months prior to falling pregnant⁷. Pregnant women are advised to take a prenatal multivitamin for the duration of their pregnancy under the supervision of their gynaecologist.


Is your pregnancy affecting your appetite and are you looking for another way to ensure you’re meeting your daily requirements?

FUTURELIFE® MOTHERS FOOD™ Shake is scientifically formulated for pregnant and breastfeeding women and combines Development 5™, Collagen, Choline, Calcium and Omega-3, in a nutritionally balanced low GI shake that 

is High in Fibre and Protein. Development 5™ is a special combination of vitamins and minerals that supports mom and baby by providing 100% of vitamin and mineral requirements (NRVs) for folate, vitamin D, zinc, iron and vitamin B12. As previously mentioned, there is a difference between folate and folic acid. There is a conversion factor for folic acid to food folate and the amount declared on pack in FUTURELIFE® MOTHERS FOOD™ Shake is the folate equivalent.

FUTURELIFE® MOTHERS FOOD™ is formulated with non-GMO ingredients and is available in 2 delicious flavours, chocolate and vanilla. It can be consumed as a meal or shake by simply adding water or milk. It is also available as a bar for a convenient on-the-go snack and if you ask me, flavour options like salted caramel and berries & dark choc sound pretty good.



Pregnancy is always going to be one of the most memorable moments of your life and bringing a child into this world is as much a responsibility as it is a blessing. Ensuring they are given the right start in life begins at conception and your nutrition as their mum is what they’re counting on. Folate is an extremely important nutrient needed during pregnancy and lactation. With so many ways to ensure you meet your daily requirements, we hope you will focus on folate when the time comes to welcome a little one to the world.




  1. Wang X, Yu J, Wang J. Neural Tube Defects and Folate Deficiency: Is DNA Repair Defective? Int. J. Mol. Sci. 202324, 2220.
  2. Naninck EF, Stijger PC, Brouwer-Brolsma EM. The importance of maternal folate status for brain development and function of offspring. Advances in Nutrition. 2019 May 1;10(3):502-19.
  3. Obeid R, Holzgreve W, Pietrzik K. Folate supplementation for prevention of congenital heart defects and low birth weight: an update. Cardiovasc Diagn Ther. 2019 Oct;9(Suppl 2):S424-S433. doi: 10.21037/cdt.2019.02.03. 
  4. Best KP, Gomersall J, Makrides M. Prenatal Nutritional Strategies to Reduce the Risk of Preterm Birth. Ann Nutr Metab 19 February 2021; 76 (Suppl. 3): 31–39.
  5. Wu Y, Yuan Y, Kong C. et al. The association between periconceptional folic acid supplementation and the risk of preterm birth: a population-based retrospective cohort study of 200,000 women in China. Eur J Nutr 60, 2181–2192 (2021).
  6. Obeid R, Warnke I, Bendik I, Troesch B, Schoop R, Chenal E, Koletzko B on behalf of the MEFOLIN Study Group. Infants’ Folate Markers and Postnatal Growth in the First 4 Months of Life in Relation to Breastmilk and Maternal Plasma Folate. Nutrients. 2023; 15(6):1495.
  7. Jouanne M, Oddoux S, Noël A, Voisin-Chiret AS. Nutrient Requirements during Pregnancy and Lactation. Nutrients 202113, 692.


BY: Shannen Singh   /   DATE: January 2023


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