Posted By: CustomVite Nutrition Team Date: March 18, 2019 Comments: 0
As a follow up to our recent post about the difference between folate and folic acid, this week we are discussing the differences between folic acid and methylfolate supplements. To refresh your memory, folate, vitamin B9, can be found in a variety of whole foods, while folic acid is a synthetic form of folate, added to foods and used in nutritional supplements. Folic acid must first be converted to folate in the body before it can be absorbed and used. Methylfolate, also known as 5-methyltetrahydrofolate and L-methylfolate, is an alternative form of folate, used as a nutritional supplement, and is the body’s most fully active form of it. Unlike folic acid, methylfolate is methylated. It is highly recommended that individuals who have a certain mutation in a gene called MTHFR, specifically the C677T MTHFR mutation, take methylfolate supplements instead of folic acid.
Although folate is found in foods, it is common for individuals to fall short of the recommended daily amounts. This is exactly why folic acid and methylfolate supplements are so important! However, these supplements are beneficial for more than just treating a folate deficiency.
Folic acid supplements:
- May support colon cancer, cervical cancer, and incidence of stroke
- May help ease menstrual pains
- Used to aid the effects of macular degeneration
- Supports healthy brain function
- Aids in manufacturing DNA and neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine
- Stabilizes mood by playing a part in neurotransmitter synthesis and production
- Responsible for methylation reactions in the body
So how do you determine which supplements to take? Well, it’s true that most people have not completed individual genetic testing, but research shows that about 40-60% of the population has the genetic polymorphism that impairs folic acid conversion to methylfolate. Therefore, taking the most bioavailable form of the nutrient, methylfolate, will ensure adequate folate absorption for all.
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(2) Folic acid in diet: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002408.htm
(3) Folic Acid: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosage, and Warning. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-1017/folic-acid
(4) Greenberg, JA., Bell, S. (2011). Multivitamin Supplementation During Pregnancy: Emphasis on Folic Acid and L-Methylfolate. Reviews in Obstetrics & Gynecology, 4(3/4): 126-127.
(5) Improve Cognitive Health- Best Supplements. (2017, June 09). Retrieved from https://www.drkkesler.com/improving-cognitive-health-supplements
(6) Methylfolate Side Effects. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://mthfr.net/methylfolate-side-effects/2012/03/01/
(7) National Institutes of Health. (2018, December 7). Folate Fact Sheet for Consumers. Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/pdf/factsheets/Folate-Consumer.pdf
(8) Office of Dietary Supplements – Folate. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/folate-healthprofessional/