Folate is found in many fortified foods and supplements, usually as folic acid, and is considered an important nutrient. It's found and listed on many prenatal vitamins and is recommended to take before and during pregnancies. However, recent research shows some serious risks associated with folic acid, such as cancer. And with a genetic mutation of the MTHFR gene, nearly 40% of the population may not be able to properly absorb folic acid. So, what should you be taking and what should you avoid? First, some basics, what is folic acid, folate, and L-methylfolate?
Folic Acid ($50 per kilo)It's an oxidized synthetic compound and derived from folate. On average, you can get a kilo of folic acid for about $50. Very cheap and easy to obtain. If you have a genetic mutation with the MTHFR gene, you ability to process and break down folic acid properly is limited. There are numerous studies coming out that show serious risks when taking folic acid (more on that below).
Folate and L-methylfolate ($15,000 per kilo)Folate is natural and found in foods (aka B-9), such as Lentils and Spinach. It's been shown to help with neural tube defects (NTD) during pregnancy.
L-methylfolate is man-made, and therefore synthetic as well. However, it's already broken down, unlike folic acid. So for those with the mutated MTHFR gene, they can absorb it far easier (see more below). However, in order to make it stable as a supplement, it is VERY costly. A kilo of L-methylfolate will set you back about $15,000!
The MTHFR GeneThe Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (NAD(P)H) gene is used in a process to create an enzyme in processing amino acids. This enzyme, Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase, is involved in a multi-step process to convert the homocysteine amnio acid to another called methionine, which is used to make other proteins and compounds in your body.
However, there are around 40 mutations of this gene. This prevents the body from processing certain amino acids properly, such as folic acid. Somewhere around 40 to 50% of the population has a type of this mutation! This mutation can cause depression, anxiety, miscarriages, pre-cancerous cells, and other medical issues.
Folic-acid Dangers?For years now folic acid has been an important nutrient for prenatal vitamins. However, recent research says otherwise. Some 40% to 50% of the population can't properly absorb it. And it's "fortified" in a lot of foods we eat, and in MANY supplements and vitamins. This was introduced as mandatory in 1998, as a protective effect before and during pregnancy for NTD (neural tube defects). What are the other risks?
- Breast Cancer Increase
- Colon Cancer Increase
- Prostate Cancer Increase
- Cognitive Impairment
- Childhood Asthma
Another study shows an increase in colon cancer (about 35%) in the U.S., Canada, and Chile that utilized a flour fortification program with folic acid. And,on a related note, a clinical trial shows a risk of prostate cancer, a 163% increased risk.
Vitamin B12 can be masked by having a high intake of folic acid. The low levels of B12 and high folic acid has found to cause a higher prevalence of cognitive impairment in older Americans.
Another study showed that an increase of 26% in childhood asthma due to mother's supplementing with folic acid during pregnancy.
Should I stop taking folic acid?There are studies that show we are deficient and that folate does indeed provide protective benefits. But with the research research, folic acid is not a good replacement for folate. Currently, to supplement or for your prenatal vitamins, look for L-methylfolate in your vitamins. Natural foods is best, such as Lentils, Spinach, Asparagus, Pinto Beans, Navy Beans, Black beans, etc for obtaining folate. If you eat clean, and have the nutritional knowledge to do so, then by all means go for natural foods.
To answer the question, stop taking folic acid.
If you have a busy life and do not have the time to research what you should be taking, then help armor yourself. I highly recommend trying ID Nutrition. If you want a pharmaceutical grade vitamin nutrition program, that is unique to you, your lifestyle, your medical conditions, and environment, that has no folic acid, and protects you from drug interactions, then you've found it! You can take the assessment for free.
Do not take multivitamins that contain folic acid and do not take prenatal vitamins that contain folic acid.
ID Nutrition and folic acidThe Chief Formulator talked to ID Life's leadership about folic acid and L-methylfolate about 18 months ago. It went something like this (Note: not word for word):
He informed leadership that "methylfolate is a better source and better absorbed by the population. Whereas folic acid may not be absorbed very well by nearly 40% of the population with a genetic mutation." The Chief Formualtor also said, "there is an associated cost... that folic acid is around $80 a kilo and methylfolate is $15,000 a kilo". ID Life leadership said, "okay, so it's better, and you recommend it?" He replied, "yes". The leadership went on to say, "we don't care about the cost, go ahead, and put it in."
That mindset, mission, dedication... that's how you know you are getting the best nutrition program on the market today. Nobody else has anything like this.
All relevant studies on what is recommended that is unique to you is available for free after taking the assessment (also free). And there is a 30 day money back guarantee! So add that extra arrow to your quiver and armor yourself for the future!
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