About the Author

Kat Keough is a leading fertility and prenatal nutritionist, she has been interviewed by publications such as Australians Women’s Health.

About the Author

Kat Keough is a leading fertility and prenatal nutritionist, she has been interviewed by publications such as Australians Women’s Health. She has a true passion about helping people optimise their fertility, prepare for pregnancy and conceive a healthy baby. She provides tailored online fertility diet courses as well as one on one counselling.

The Myth of MTHFR Gene & Folate

Kat Keough, fertility and prenatal nutritionist for Ovitae, debunks the harmful myths around folic acid versus folate supplementation. The article below was published on June 24th 2021


Original Article by Shirl Orono



Kat Keough, the fertility and prenatal nutritionist at leading prenatal supplement company, Ovitae, is becoming increasingly concerned about the dangerous commentary that is swirling through the media and mainstream conversations in regards to folic acid and folate. She is committed to rewriting the discourse and educating hopeful and expecting parents by debunking the harmful myths around folic acid and folate.

Folic acid is one of the most important vitamins to take during pregnancy. Getting the right amount of folic acid reduces the risk of your baby developing neural tube defects, including spina bifida and birth defects, as well as cleft lip and cleft palate. It also helps you and your baby to produce red blood cells and reduces your risk of preeclampsia during pregnancy,” Keough said.

“It is critical to understand that folic acid is the only form of folate supplement that has been through full medical clinical trials. Other folate supplements do not meet the benchmark set by governments across the world and the Australian Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA) to claim that they prevent neural tube defects. Scarily, a number of proponents of supplemental folate are pushing a narrative that has not gone through any meaningful medical trials and should not be relied upon if you are trying to conceive or an expecting parent.

“Without a base medical understanding it may not be known to prospective parents that folic acid and folate are not interchangeable terms. Folate is an umbrella term that includes several compounds in the Vitamin B group that share a similar structure, including folic acid, folinic acid and methylfolate (5-MTHF). Whereas, folic acid is a synthetic form of folate that is stable in supplement form and can be used to fortify foods. The folate that is found naturally in foods is simply not stable enough to be used in supplements or for fortification, and should not be trusted upon to attain the correct amount of folate in your prenatal diet.

“In a well-rounded, healthy diet you should consume 400 to 500 micrograms of folic acid from a prenatal supplement each day while you’re trying to conceive and throughout your pregnancy, in addition to increasing your consumption of foods, which naturally contain folate. It is very difficult for most women to get the recommended daily amount of folate through food alone, which is why supplements are a convenient way to ingest a base level amount of folate, in folic acid form, each day.”

Ovitae pre conception and pregnancy support

Ovitae pre conception and pregnancy support

According to Keough, she agrees that on paper the benefits linked to folate supplements, including the narrative surrounding the genetic makeup of the parents affecting the mother’s ability to absorb folic acid, sounds all well and dandy. However, she is urging everyone to look deeper into medical claims with a critical eye and relevant research, before believing every claim you read.

“In theory supplemental folate sounds great — but that is about where it stops — as a theory. Without any significant medical trials to support the claims that are saturating the mainstream conversation, there are too many unknowns associated with folate use in prenatal supplements,” Keough added.

“The studies that have been conducted are not recognised by leading medical health bodies due to the fact that the sample sizes are pitifully small and not in line with the international standards for medical experimentation. In 2020 the United States Centre of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the national public health agency, published an article discrediting folate and its link with gene defects; emphasising that it is simply incorrect.

“The MTHFR gene is responsible for providing instructions for your body to make MTHFR protein, which helps your body process folate, and it is also at the centre of these myths circulating in regards to folic acid in pre-conception and pregnancy. Put simply, a gene variant occurs when a DNA sequence is different to the expected DNA sequence.

“A variant of the MTHFR gene in this case is the MTHFR C677T, which affects how your body processes folate, and can occur in either or both of the MTHFR genes that every person has — one from their mother and the other from their father. The story that is making a stir in public discussion is that if you have either of these copies of MTHFR C677T, then you’re not safe to consume folic acid. This is not true.

“Your body can and will safely process different types of folate, including folic acid, whether you have this gene variant or not. The CDC have stressed that folic acid is the only type of folate shown to help prevent neural tube defects.

“I do not want to see any vulnerable, innocent parents jeopardise their pregnancies based on incomplete and manipulated research. It is of serious concern to myself, and the team at Ovitae, that people may base their decisions on incredibly dangerous fabrications.”

According to Keough, if you’re thinking about conceiving soon, now is the time to begin taking a folic acid supplement. Folate deficiency during pregnancy can affect the health of the birth parent, causing anaemia and peripheral neuropathy, in addition to the fetus that can experience spina bifida and other congenital abnormalities. Heartbreakingly, a lack of folate in pregnancy can even increase the risk of miscarriage.

Ovitae Pre Conception Support

“If you don’t eat a lot of foods that are fortified with folate, and do not consume a diet that is plentiful in leafy greens, legumes and wholegrains, there is a significant chance that you’re missing out on folate. In general, it is now widely accepted that most people do not consume enough folate from their diet alone to meet the increased needs of pregnancy. As such, folic acid supplementation is absolutely necessary to support a healthy pregnancy,” Keough said.

Ovitae Global Health is the company behind Australia’s most complete prenatal supplementOvitae Pre-Conception Support. Endorsed by the Australian College of Midwives, Ovitae leverages the latest science to create products that promote the optimum nutritional state for the mother and baby throughout conception and pregnancy. With unique blend of 25 vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, Ovitae Pre-Conception Support is far superior to anything in the marketplace currently.


Ovitae is proud to be Australian Made and offically endorsed by the Australian College of Midwives.

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