MTHFR and Folic Acid

Do you have the MTHFR gene variant? If so, you need to be careful about consuming folic acid.

I know folic acid is often only thought of in pregnancy, but this is not the only time we need it.

Folate (or B9) is a B vitamin that is used by the body alongside vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 to help control homocysteine levels. It is also needed for healthy DNA synthesis, and it helps to make healthy red blood cells.

Folic Acid is the inactive form of folate. A person without the MTHFR snp will have no problem breaking folic acid into folate. A person with the MTHFR snp has a higher susceptibility for things to go wrong.

Whenever you see folate listed as an ingredient in a food product it is the synthetic version folic acid that has been added. If you carry the MTHFR snp and are affected by this variant, then consuming folic acid is not recommended.

Having a healthy folate cycle is important for everybody not just pregnant women. Our bodies rely on the folate cycle for our methylation, our DNA synthesis and RNA repair, making it an important pathway.

If you have a deficient folate pathway you might be someone that:

  • Can’t tolerate the Oral Contraceptive Pill
  • Feels unable to tolerate B vitamin supplements
  • Not able to lose weight
  • Have unexplained elevated Cholesterol
  • Have a poor memory and can’t remember where they put the car keys or what they had for lunch today?
  • Have Chronic allergies
  • Had Multiple miscarriages
  • Addictions
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Mood disorders

Now this is only a few suggestions, you may also have a family history of breast, colon or any estrogen dominant cancers.

To avoid consuming folic acid you need to avoid all wheat based products. Here in Australia all wheat flour must have folic acid added. This is called fortification. This was done to help alleviate folic acid deficiency and reduce neural tube defects in babies. But this can make things worse for some people.

The only way to eliminate folic acid from your diet is to buy organic wheat based flours or choose an alternative type of flour to wheat. These do not have to be fortified with folic acid. Although I would still check as some still may have it added.

If you continue to eat folic acid, carry the MTHFR snp and experience some of the above issues, then the folic acid could be making it worse. The MTHFR snp means your ability to excrete folic acid from the body could be compromised leading to higher levels of unmetabolized folic acid in your plasma or tissues. Unmetabolized folic acid means it has not been converted to the active form of folate. Having higher levels of this has been shown to cause an increased risk of cancers, or aggravate a pre-existing condition, alter the sperm epigenome, and can mask the signs of B12 deficiency.

There are many issues with having a folate deficiency but some of these issues are just as bad with a high plasma level of unmetabolized folic acid. Low folate can affect your DNA synthesis and so can high levels of unmetabolised folic acid.

So if you are MTHFR positive and consume lots of folic acid and experience any mood disorders, inflammatory conditions, autoimmune issues, thyroid issues or degenerative conditions, I would strongly suggest removing folic acid from the diet and chat to someone about your methylation cycle.

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