Green Tea & Folate
By Yolandi Rademeyer R.D
Green tea has many beneficial health properties and, in healthy individuals, does not need to be eliminated from the diet when trying to conceive or during pregnancy,but limiting consumption to one cup a day and not drinking the tea close to the time of taking folic acid supplements or with a folate rich meal may be beneficial for maintaining optimal folate levels.
Green and black tea both reduce the bio-availability of folic acid in the gut by roughly a third , but green tea more so due to it being an unfermented tea with higher amounts of catechins.
Green tea has long been known for its antitumor properties partly because of it’s anti-folate effect. Apart from its antioxidant properties, it also contains a catechin named Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGG).
Studies have proven EGG to be an efficient inhibitor of the enzyme that converts folate to a more active form in the body as well as playing a role in folate absorption from the gut.
Folate is a crucial nutrient around the time of conception and the prevention of neural tube defect (NTD) in newborns 
Studies in pregnant women have shown that higher levels of tea consumption were associated with lower folate levels in the body especially with more than 4 cups a day of green teaor Oolong tea
Three studies have found that the risk of NTD is increases with tea drinkers(usually >3 cups/day) compared to non tea drinkers. These studies were from Great Britain, US and China
Taking into consideration that some of these studies were done in years before folic acid food fortification commenced(1998) and mothers were on average doses of folic acid (400mcg)supplementation. We now have folic acid food fortification in grains and cereals and higher recommendations of perinatal folic acid supplementation(>600mcg).
As mentioned, green tea has many beneficial health properties and, in healthy individuals, does not need to be eliminated, but limiting consumption to one cup a day and not drinking the tea close to the time of taking folic acid supplements may be beneficial for maintaining optimal folate levels.
However, some reasons you may want to minimise the consumption of green and black tea even more:
- If you are aware that you have low folate levels(one in 3 people have and MTHFR mutation: see folic acid vs methyl folate post)
- If you are anaemic
- If you are only taking 400mcg of folic acid as a prenatal supplement
- if you are gluten free and do not consume other folic acid fortified cereals(brown rice, quinuoa,wild rice,buckwheat,amaranth,millet)(AND2014)