Folate vs. Folic Acid...
The body is an amazing dynamo of biochemical processes, some of which come easier than others.
Here’s a little snippet about why converting folate into usable forms of nutrients is so important to your health!
Folate is not the same thing as folic acid.
Folate, the naturally-occurring form of vitamin B9 is found in many whole foods such as leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli, brussel sprouts, avocados, citrus, legumes, beets, nuts and seeds. The active form of vitamin B9 is a folate known as levomefolic acid or 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF).
Folic acid is a synthetic or manmade form of vitamin B9, also known as pteroylmonoglutamic acid. It can be found in processed foods such as flour and breakfast cereals.
Folate and folic acid are two different forms of vitamin B9. Even though there is a distinct difference between the two, their names are often used interchangeably. Before entering the bloodstream, the digestive system converts folate into the biologically active form of vitamin B9, 5-MTHF.
Tell me more…
Folate is used in many biochemical processes in the body such as making DNA, new blood cells and support of reproductive health.
Methylation, a detoxification biochemical process happens millions of times per second in every cell in our body. It helps the body remove toxins, including excess estrogen, heavy metals like mercury from dental amalgams, pesticides from our food and chemicals from our environment. It's required to make neurotransmitters in the brain and needed to manage and balance moods.
Why does this matter?
About one third of the population has a genetic SNP (pronounced “snip”) in the MTHFR gene. This very common genetic variant which creates an insufficient level of MethylTetraHydroFolateReductase (MTHFR), an enzyme required to convert folate to its most active form is used in the methylation cycle and impairs the body's ability to methylate.
Pfew! So how does this affect you?
MTHFR SNP’s prevent your body from converting and therefore absorbing folate to its usable and active form. Conditions associated with MTHFR include:
depression and anxiety
chronic pain and fatigue
Genetic testing can reveal two different SNP variants.
The C677T variant tends to affect the methylation processes which support heart health (via management of homocysteine) and detoxification (via glutathione). This variant is more severe.
The A1298C variant tends to affect the production of nitric oxide (to retain healthy blood pressure) and the creation of neurotransmitters. This variant is less severe.
These conditions vary from person to person and from variant to variant. Clients who have these variants may also need other supportive help in reducing their symptoms.
Every person is unique! It’s important to work with a professional to increase your knowledge of what works best for your body. Folic acid is synthetic. When taking supplements, a methylated (5-MTHF) or active form of folate is a much healthier alternative to folic acid.
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In good health!