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Is Folate Toxic?

We have all heard that folate is an essential B vitamin to be taken when trying to conceive and continued during your pregnancy to minimise you baby’s chances of developing spina bifida.

But did you know that 20-40% of us can not break down synthetic folate (B9). In fact there is a blood test anyone looking at incorporating folate into their daily diet should do before starting your folate supplement.

It is called the MTHFR mutation gene test and a positive result indicates you are one of the 20-40% that carry the MTHFR mutant gene.  

So what’s the big deal? The MTHFR (methylenetetrahydrofolate) gene is essential in the manufacture of amino acids to make proteins and other compounds such as antioxidants. Additionally, this mutation creates difficulty for your body to eliminate toxins and heavy metals.

If you do get a positive MTHFR test then it would be ideal for your GP to check your homocysteine levels. Homocysteine is a by-product of protein metabolism and folate is one of the vitamins needed to convert homocysteine into methionine and glutathione. If folate isn’t utilised in the body effectively then your homocysteine levels will be high.  

What effects do high homocysteine levels have? High levels of homocysteine can increase risk in developing one of the following:

  • Heart Attack
  • Stroke
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid related health concerns
  • Infertility
  • Depression
  • Digestive illnesses
  • Chronic Pain

Many women trying to conceive are told to include folate, and as you see this could be detrimental. This is a great indicator that vitamins are just as important to be prescribed by a qualified health practitioner as any other medicine.  

Also if you are positive to the mutation ensure you read the labels of breads, cereals, milk etc and many products have been fortified with folate due to its importance to our health.  

What to do if you are positive to the mutation? You still need to have folate and in fact it is essential to reduce your high homocysteine levels, however you will need the methylated version. It is best to have methylated B6, B9 (folate) and B12. B12 assists with the absorption of folate so even if you don’t have the mutation and you are taking folate as a supplement you will need to include B12 to maximise the effect folate has on your health.   I

don’t like to recommend one place over the other but have a great range of supplements called Solgar and they have the methylated B6, B9 and B12 products.