Interpretations of lab test results do not always give an accurate picture of what is going on in the body. In the case of a MTHFR gene mutation (which is very common), it is common for people to show as having plenty of B9, or folate, in the blood.
The problem with this result is that just because the B9 is in the blood, doesn’t mean it’s in a usable form that does what it needs to do in the body. In the case of MTHFR gene mutation, those who have been consuming the form folic acid rather than methyl-folate, will often show high amounts of B9 (folic acid/folate) in the blood, but they still show signs of deficiencies.
The difference between Folate, Folic Acid, and Methyl Folate
Since I first heard of MTHFR and that there is a difference between folate, folic acid, and methyl-folate, I have been on alert for news articles and scientific studies that talk about folate and folic acid, especially as it relates to autism.
Do you remember when people ‘studied’ saturated fat, but only they didn’t study saturated fat, they studied hydrogenated oil? And that study ‘showed’ that saturated fat was bad for people? But then later they found that hydrogenated oil was to blame, and saturated fat does not cause heart disease.
We’re making the same mistake- only this time it’s with synthetic folic acid vs naturally occurring folate.
This article just crossed my newsfeed, which states:
Researchers found that if a new mother has a very high level of folate right after giving birth—more than four times what is considered adequate—the risk that her child will develop a condition on the autism spectrum doubles.
This study makes sense when you take into account how people with MTHFR process vitamins:
- People that do not process folic acid well or at all will have a buildup in their bloodstream, yet it is not making it into the cells of the body because the enzyme needed to transport it is lacking.
- People that do not process folic acid well, but are still consuming it, will have trouble getting their body to absorb the needed folate in the usable form of natural folate or methyl-folate because it is confused or backed up trying to process the unusable folic acid.
- Lab tests can show what is in the blood, but if someone’s ability to absorb nutrients from the blood is different than what is considered normal, the data can be incorrectly interpreted easily.
What can we do about folic acid and MTHFR?
Always always always, avoiding synthetic attempts to mimic real food is your best health insurance policy.
In addition, you have to learn to read labels, and really understand what you are taking, especially in supplement form.
The MTHFR/autism link is common (but not in all cases of autism.) If you are concerned about autism, and think that your family may have the MTHFR gene mutation you want to switch to a more easily absorbed form of both B9 (folate) and B12.
You also will want to avoid fortified foods and most vitamins. Foods to avoid include cereals, flours, and some juices. People with MTHFR cannot process the form folic acid well, or at all. Not being able to process folic acid messes up the metabolic process when we are ingesting similar versions of a needed vitamin that we cannot use.
I have talked to lots of moms who have children with special needs and/or autism who have seen drastic improvements when they (the moms) take methyl folate. They also see major improvements giving it to the other members of their family. B9/folate is a needed vitamin, and your body may well be starved for it.
I recommend Seeking Health brand vitamins:
Note, I do not take their recommended doses of vitamins. I recommend starting at the recommended dose, and then cutting by half every couple days. We don’t even take them every day any more, just one chewable twice a week or so.
See all MTHFR/Folic Acid Articles
Quick reminder: I am not a medical professional, this is not medical advice. I am just a mom who is trying to figure out what’s going on in my own family with the information I have available to me. And I want to share, in case it is helpful for you.
Folic Acid: Disaster for Your Baby's Health
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