MTHFR: Folic Acid vs. L-methylfolate vs. Folate

Learn more about MTHFR by reading these:        Is MTHFR a Bad word?

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GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

Please welcome The Healthy Elephant’s first featured author, April Butchee. April is a stay-at-home mother of 2 girls who has personally experienced the wrath of the MTHFR mutation. After enduring anxiety, depression, miscarriages, pre-cancerous cells, and pulmonary embolisms due to MTHFR, April has been dedicated to raising awareness about this relatively common problem, a genetic mutation that doctors seem to dismiss.

MTHFR is a gene and an enzyme, that when mutated can cause a variety of health issues. Although 40-50% of the population have some form of this mutation, hardly anyone has heard of its existence.

Today, April would like to share with you the differences between folic acid and L-methylfolate and why it makes such a difference to someone with the MTHFR mutation. Take it away, April!

According to the medical community, folic acid is an important nutrient, especially in pregnancy. However, there might be disastrous results to your health if your body cannot break it down properly. I will explain some important differences you need to be aware of.

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What is Folic Acid?

It is a synthetic supplement that is cheap and easy to mass produce. Some people may not be aware that Folic Acid is not good for anyone with MTHFR. If you have a mutated MTHFR gene,  you have a very limited ability to breakdown and process Folic Acid. Folic Acid is found in almost any multivitamin or prenatal you find on the shelves.

In 1998 the FDA started fortifying foods with Folic Acid, such as, flour, cereal, bread, rice and pasta. Although these nutrients may be helpful for some, for greater than half of the population, they are NOT. Start checking the labels on your food and you will see what I am talking about. They might disguise it as “Folate”, but if it is added to your food by man, then it is not Folate. (See “What is Folate?” explained below.)

 

What is L-methylfolate?

L-methylfolate is technically a synthetic supplement as well since it is man-made. How is it different than Folic Acid? L-methylfolate is already broken down for those who lack the ability break down Folic Acid on their own. There is a four-step process needed to break down Folic Acid into L-methylfolate.(NeevoDHA.com)

 

Folic Acid > Dihydrofolate > Tetrahydrofolate > 5, 10 Methylene THF > L-methylfolate

 

Without the ability to breakdown Folic Acid into it’s most bioavailable form of L-methylfolate we are leaving ourselves susceptible to many health issues. Want to read more about Folic Acid vs. Folate, and even how Unmetabolized Folic Acid can be harmful? This is a good place to start: http://chriskresser.com/folate-vs-folic-acid

 

What is Folate?

Folate is naturally occurring. No one added this into the food except God himself. You will find folate in foods, such as, spinach, broccoli, brussel sprouts, lettuce, liver and eggs. Keep in mind you will only receive a small amount of the micrograms needed, directly from food Folate. L-methylfolate provides larger doses for those who may need more than what is received through food.

Unfortunately many of the foods found in stores today have been genetically modified (GMO’s) and are lacking in many nutrients. It’s always a good idea to buy organic, or from a local farmer’s market. If you don’t know where a farmer’s market is near you, try this website: http://www.localharvest.org/.

I suggest that everyone keeps up to date with current research and stays educated about their genetic mutations. 23andme.com provides testing for hundreds of thousands of genetic mutations. Through testing we discovered that every single member of my family (mother, father, both of my brothers and both of my daughters) all have a variation of MTHFR. We are learning that MTHFR is just one piece of the genetic mutation puzzle. We are still putting all the pieces of this puzzle together and learning all there is to know.

It is important to take charge of your health. Find a knowledgeable doctor who will listen. Trust me, those doctors do exist.

Thanks for listening, April

You can find out more about April and her work @ SurvivingMTHFR.blogspot.com

 


Comments

MTHFR: Folic Acid vs. L-methylfolate vs. Folate — 19 Comments

    • Thanks for the heads-up, Kevin. I added a couple sentences to reacquaint the readers to MTHFR…. THANKS for the tip, feel free to help me out any time :)

  1. It is kinda funny. My doc knew to test me for the mutations, but didn’t know what to do with the info. She sent me to a hematologist that told me I shouldn’t “buy trouble” and if I wasn’t having heart problems, I was fine. On my own and with friends in the same boat, we educated out own docs and are now all on various amounts of L-Methyfolate. Also found out that both my children and husband are mutants!

    • It’s funny that when they don’t know what to do with you, that they tell you everything is fine and not to worry about it! LOL Keep up the good work with educating everyone! Welcome to the club… my family and I are all mutants too :) !!

  2. Pingback: Folic Acid, it’s in everything, it must be good, Right? | Pawkey's Ponderings

  3. Hi! Thanks for this info! I was recently diagnosed with hetero MTHFR and I would love to read some of the information on April’s blog. In a google search on prenatal vitamins for MTHFR her blog comes up but then upon clicking the link it says access is denied. Any way we could get access to that post? Thanks!

    • Hi there! Don’t know why it won’t give you access. I can ask her about it though. You can also check out Dr. Ben Lynch @ mthfr.net while you’re waiting. Also did you read the rest of the mthfr articles on TheElephant? It is imperative as far as prenatals go to make sure that they include methylfolate and methylcobalamin (b12). We had no idea about all of this and it may be why my daughter was born with cerebellar hypoplasia (missing 1/2 of the cerebellum part of the brain). Your doc may tell you “not to worry about it”, but you can bypass what your body can’t do easily with the right supplements. Are you 1298 or 677?

      • I’m so sorry to hear about your daughter! I hope she is doing well. I’m both 1298 and 677. Do they make a prenatal with both methylfolate and methylcobalamin? My current prenatal has methylcobalamin but Folic Acid, unfortunately. I’m hoping to figure out an alternative before I get pregnant again (My LO is 3 months, so I have some time.. thankfully she is healthy but we feel like we dodged a bullet and are concerned about our next pregnancy). I’ll take a look at the other articles here and check out mthfr.net. Thanks!

  4. I’m trying to get pregnant. My doctor gave me 4000 of Folic Acid a day. But I understand that I shouldn’t be taking Folic Acid if I have MTHFR mutation. Should I take 4000mg of L-Methylfolate instead or how much?

    • Have you been tested or diagnosed with MTHFR? If not, ask to be tested and soon. I am not a doctor and cannot recommend or prescribe supplements or medication. Talk to your doctor. If he/she is not educated in MTHFR, connect with a naturopath that is familiar with it. If you run into dead ends ask Dr Ben Lynch @ MTHFR.net

  5. Hi! If I buy a prenatal that lists folate (not folic acid), is that sufficient? Or should I go ahead and get one that specifically lists it as methyl? I have not been tested for MTHFR….but I do have an autoimmune disease and have learned that it is especially common for what I have (Hashimoto’s).

    • I am no expert on MTHFR and am not comfortable in recommending a particular supplement. Getting tested is easy and can give you peace of mind. Also, Check out MTHFR.net. Dr. Ben Lynch is a GREAT resource for info on specifics about MTHFR and MTHFR in pregnancy. Please keep me updated on what you find out so that I may learn too!! (I have happily used Thorne and Garden of Life products though!)

  6. Along with supplementing methylfolate to help balance the methylation cycle, it can be extremely beneficial to supplement your glutathione levels with acetyl glutathione. Because the methylation cycle is responsible for glutathione production, those with a MTHFR mutation almost always have a glutathione deficiency which leads to a whole plethora of ailments. Supplementing your gsh levels can really give your body a health boost it needs, especially when battling a MTHFR mutation. Great article!
    Ken recently posted…MTHFR and AutismMy Profile

    • I agree! I was one of those with an almost nonexistant glutathione level. While starting the methyl-b12 and the 5-MTHF, I also started glutathione gel and coffee enemas…. then, supplemented with N-acetyl cysteine. It did the trick and the levels are great! Glutathione is “the mother” of antioxidants- it “recharges” them to be used again…. VERY important in reducing oxidative stress/damage….. Thank you VERY much for your comment!

  7. I am seeing a heamatologist, neurologist, high-risk Ob and a retina specialist. None of these people know anything about MTHFR. My heamatologist said ‘just take Megafol 5′ which I’ve been taking for months now only to read that it is most likely poisoning me… WHO knows how to monitor and treat sufferers of this disease.
    HELP ME PLEASE. I’m 5 weeks pregnant and have a history of miscarriage…

    • Hi Dezarae. First of all, don’t panic. Second, Dr Ben Lynch @ MTHFR.net is a GREAT resource and he will probably actually email you back if you send one to him. I would say getting on methyl B12 and methyl folate would be musts, but there are protocols because you don’t want to start processing too many toxins at once- you need to be able to get rid of them. What type of MTHFR do you have? I know how frustrating it can be with all of these medical professionals not knowing about it… I have been teaching every one I come in contact with! There are many reasons for miscarriage (sorry to hear, I know how tough they are) so don’t panic and automatically assume that it is due to MTHFR. Do check out Dr Lynch’s website and please keep me updated. Depending on the type you have, you may want to call some primary care physicians and/or OBs to see if you can find one that knows about MTHFR.

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