What Is Folic Acid & what does it have to do with MTHFR?
Folic acid is the synthetic version of folate (also called B9), and it is manufactured then used in fortified foods and supplements. The natural form of B9 is Folate, and it’s found in many foods such as asparagus, Brussels sprouts, egg yolks, and leafy greens to name a few.
The problem is that our bodies require ACTIVE FOLATE, especially during pregnancy, and not folic acid. And while in theory the folic acid in prenatal vitamins should convert to folate in our bodies, but realistically for 40-60% of the female population, it may not work exactly as planned.
Folate is essential for both men and women to protect and repair our DNA while supporting healthy cell division—creating new cells.
Ever since the Human Genome Project released its findings in 2003, there’s been a lot of attention focused on MTHFR. (Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase). MTHFR is the gene that codes for an enzyme in our bodies that helps turn folic acid into folate. 25% of us have two gene variations (SNPs) on MTHFR (C677T and/or 1298C). And 60% of the population have one gene variation. With these SNPs, the ability to turn folic acid into folate decreases up to 68%.
As it pertains to fertility both men and women can be affected, but when it comes to pregnancy however, when the MTHFR enzyme malfunctions, folic acid does not turn into folate as intended, causing an imbalance or deficiency that can be quite serious.
If you have a C677T MTHFR mutation, you are less able to process synthetic estrogens well, and more likely to become deficient in folate. This makes you highly susceptible to the side effects of oral contraceptives, such as blood clots and stroke. If you decide to stop using OC, and want to try to become pregnant, it is imperative that you have your folate level checked first.
Many medications (such as methyltrexate) can deplete your bodies level of folate.
Folate is essential to protect and repair our DNA while supporting healthy cell division—creating new cells.
For those not pregnant, MTHFR can present symptoms such as:
Migraines and Headaches
Abnormal Pap Smear
In addition to these symptoms, the MTHFR mutation also makes it difficult for your body to absorb and use all B vitamins. Our ability to use B vitamins is already affected by common exposures to stress, environmental toxins, inflammation, and dietary preferences. Having the MTHFR mutation only compounds that inability to use these much-needed vitamins and affects everything from your mood to sleep to energy levels.
Homocysteine, levels should be checked to get a sense of how your metabolism is working and whether you have enough folate or need more. Homocysteine comes together with folate and methyl-B12 to make something called SAMe or S- adenosylmethionine. This process is called “METHYLATION”.
Keep your folate up by eating lots of green leafy vegetables, black beans, avoid sugary foods and folic acid. Start with low doses, and supplement with folate-5MTHF and B12-methylcobalamin.