Folate, Folic Acid, & L-methyl Folate

March 21, 2018

Learn here why is it essential in any good prenatal to have methylated folate in your prenatal vitamin.






Did you know that folic acid is not the same thing as folate? The difference can actually be what separates health from disease, and is especially important in pregnancy.

Folate is a generic term for a group of water soluble B-vitamins that includes folic acid and naturally occurring folates in food. The terms “folic acid” and “folate” are often used interchangeably, but in reality, they are 2 very different things.

Folic acid refers to the fully oxidized synthetic compound used in most dietary supplements and in food fortification while folate refers to the various tetrahydrofolate derivatives naturally present in foods. 

Humans are not able to make their own folate, making it an essential nutrient that that needs to be obtained from the diet.  Sources of natural folate are leafy green vegetables, fruits, legumes, liver, eggs and dairy products. Food folates are mainly pteroylpolyglutamate forms of tet­rahydofolate, 5-methyl-tetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF), 10-formyltetrahydrofolate and 5-formyltetrahydrofolate.  (This is technical we know, but hang in there with us for just a few more seconds).

We get synthetic folic acid mainly from folic acid-fortified grain products and folic acid-containing supplements. Humans never had exposure to this chemical compound until it was synthesized in a labaratory as was added to fortified grains and supplements. However because folic acid isn’t found in nature, some bodies don't know how to process it into a useful and vital nutrient.

It has been shown that even a small intake (less than 400 micrograms per day) of synthetic folic acid from fortified foods or synthetic supplements may lead to the appearance of unmetabolized folic acid in your blood. Since folic acid is not a normal metabolite it then must be converted to the active compound called tetrahydrofolate, (folate) which is the form your body can use. 

Many people with genetic mutations in the MTHFR gene, (it is estimated that about 50% of people carry this mutation) may not be able to process synthetic folic acid in liver where folic acid is first metabolized, and as a result can have a build up of the undesirable unmetabolized folic acid. This causes 2 big issues. First, the build up of unmetabolized folic acid has been linked to various risks including potential cognitive decline and susceptibility to certain cancers and second, by not being able to convert it, it leaves you deficient in folate which is what is absolutely necessary for us in pregnancy.  

For this reason, we have never used synthetic folic acid in our pregnaceuticals and only use the active form of folate as a trade marked quatrefolic. 

It is a safe, natural form which is quickly and easily utilized by the body. Quatrefolic in our formula provides the proven benefits of optimal folatesupplementation without  any risks. 

It is amazing how many prenatal supplement brands still use 100% folic acid in their lines. Some will claim they only use “whole food” nutrients, but when reading the labels, many contain some food based ingredients but are then spiked with synthetic USP vitamins, with folic acid being one of the ingredients.

The easiest way to check is looking at the label on the back of your prenatal vitamin. If it says folic acid, it means its synthetic, but if it says quatrfolic, 5-Methylfolate, folate, tetrahydrofolate, or l-5 methyltetrahydrofolate, that means it is natural. Does your vitamin pass the test?

While natural folate may cost a bit more than folic acid for the manufacturer, we are always willing to make this investment in the highest quality raw materials. Our goal is to provide you with the purest, most bio available, therapeutic quality nutrients for both you and your baby.  

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