Science Update

The human gut has only a limited ability to convert folic acid to 5-MTHF.

There has been a lot of press on the link between MTHFR (methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase) gene mutations and chronic disease. This has resulted in a great deal of concern with the particular form of folate that doctors are giving to their patients. As Director of Clinical and Product Support here at Designs for Health I personally speak to approximately five doctors a day about this very topic.

According to a recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition the human gut appears to have a very efficient capacity to convert reduced dietary folates to 5-MTHF but only a limited ability to reduce folic acid. The risk occurs when there is unmetabolized folic acid present. Unlike natural folates (5-MTHF and 5-formyltetrahydrofolate) folic acid is not a normal metabolite and must be reduced in order to enter the folate cycle. It has been found that chronic liver exposure to folic acid in humans may actually induce saturation.  This could very well be the reason why systemic circulation of unmetabolized folic acid has been reported. In addition there is a growing body of evidence of folic acid supplementation playing a role in promoting the growth and development of certain cancers.

Designs for Health does not use folic acid in any of its products. We offer L-5-MTHF (1 mg and 5 mg capsules) and the rest of our line contains our NatureFolate blend which consists of 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF) and 5-formyltetrahydrofolate (5-FTHF). These are safe natural forms of folate which are quickly and easily utilized by the body. NatureFolate provides the proven benefits of optimal folate supplementation without the risks. It is important to note that the presence of a MTHFR gene mutation does not impede the conversion into 5-MTHF. 

Source: Folic acid handling by the human gut: implications for food fortification and supplementation. Am J Clin Nutr 2014 ajcn.080507; June 18 2014.