Folic Acid vs. Folate: It matters!
SO YOUR DOCTOR HAS TOLD YOU THAT YOU HAVE ELEVATED HOMOCYSTEINE LEVELS. THIS CAN INDICATE THAT YOU MAY BE DEFICIENT IN B12, FOLATE AND B6. WHAT HE MAY HAVE FORGOTTEN TO TELL YOU IS THAT WHEN THESE COFACTORS ARE DEFICIENT, IT WILL PREVENT THE CONVERSION OF METHIONINE TO CYSTEINE, AND HENCE HOMOCYSTEINE CAN ACCUMULATE. AND ELEVATED HOMOCYSTEINE IS A PRECURSOR TO CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE. NOT SOMETHING YOU WANT! SO YOU START TO TAKE FOLIC ACID.
Many people do not realize that folic acid and folate are not synonymous. Many health professionals would even argue that folate and folic acid are essentially the same. Folate is a general term for a group of water soluble b-vitamins, and is also known as B9, and refers to the various tetrahydrofolate derivatives naturally found in food. Folic acid refers to the oxidized synthetic compound used in dietary supplements and food fortification. Folic acid is a synthetic manmade nutrient-shelf stable-used very poorly and doesn’t do anything physiologically in your body. Folic acid can bind to proteins and blocks the folate receptors. Therefore, the good folate cannot get into cell, as folic acid is blocking it. So essentially it can actually worsen a folate deficiency. According to Lynch, folic acid can “screw up your biochemistry”.
The form of folate that can enter the main folate metabolic cycle is tetrahydrofolate (THF). Folate is the natural form of vitamin our body needs and is found in leafy greens. Folate binding proteins can successfully bind to it, where it can get carried properly into the cells. Good sources of dietary folate include vegetables such as romaine lettuce, kale, spinach, asparagus, turnip greens, parsley, collard greens, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, and lentils (Kresser, 2012). Other really good sources folate are calf’s liver and chicken liver, although not typically a first choice! If supplementing, the form of folic acid should be either methyl folate or folinic acid (Lynch, 2017).
Natural folates are metabolized to THF in the mucosa of the small intestine. Folic acid, however, undergoes initial reduction and methylation in the liver, where conversion to the THF form requires dihydrofolate reductase, which has low activity in the liver. “The low activity of this enzyme in the human liver, combined with a high intake of folic acid, may result in unnatural levels of unmetabolized folic acid entering the systemic circulation” (Kresser, 2012).
There are risks associated with excessive folic acid intake. One of the major risks associated with excessive intake of folic acid is the development of cancer (Kresser, 2012). In the United States, Canada, and Chile, the use of folic acid supplementation program was associated with an increased prevalence of colon and prostate cancer. In addition, a high intake of folic acid might mask detection of vitamin B12 deficiency and lead to a deterioration of central nervous system function in the elderly (Kresser, 2012). “In one study, consumption of folic acid in excess of 400 micrograms per day among older adults resulted in significantly faster rate of cognitive decline than supplement nonusers. Another study found a higher prevalence of both anemia and cognitive impairment in association with high folic acid intake in older adults with a low vitamin B12 status” (Kresser, 2012).
So in a nutshell, the clients should either be eating natural sources of folate, like kale, or supplementing only with methyl folate or folinic acid. I use Homocystex Plus with my clients who are coming to me with elevated homocysteine. It was designed by Ben Lynch (Seeking Health) and since I trust him, I also trust the product.
LINK TO ORDER HOMOCYTEX —>>>> http://amzn.to/2Fn8NcQ
-A pure formula providing bioactive forms of four essential B-vitamins together with betaine (also known as trimethylglycine or TMG) to synergistically support methylation processes and normal homocysteine metabolism.
-Delivers two active coenzyme forms of Vitamin B12, Methylcobalamin and Adenosylcobalamin (the mitochondrial form of vitamin B12) along with 5-methylfolate, the body’s most prevalent form of folate in plasma.
As Ben Lynch says, “folic acid, garbage can. Dark leafy greens in your mouth” (Lynch, 2017)
Here is a video that discusses in depth, I watched this a few years ago when I was really sick and switching to methyl folate has been a key element in my health transformation:
Folic Acid is Affecting You Negatively (Links to an external site.)Folic Acid is Affecting You Negatively
Kresser, Chris. (2012, March 9). The little known (but critical) difference between folate and folic acid. Retrieved (2018, March 8) from https://chriskresser.com/folate-vs-folic-acid/ (Links to an external site.)
Lynch, Ben. (2015, April 17). Folic Acid vs. Folate: What is the difference? Retrieved (2018, March 8) fromFolic Acid vs Folate: What is the Difference? (Links to an external site.)Folic Acid vs Folate: What is the Difference?