Step 4

Folate Status

Regulate genes, gut, brain, and much more.

Folate is an essential B vitamin, found in vegetables, meats and legumes. It is vital for many health and fitness functions.

Importance

What Does Folate Do?

Folate facilitates many important chemical reactions within the body that help prevent cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, depression and osteoporosis, along with neural tube defects and infertility. Folate can also help build red blood cells to carry oxygen to muscles, and improve brain function.

However, an unhealthy synthetic vitamin version of folate, called folic acid, is commonly added to processed foods, and used in dietary supplements. Folic acid can be harmful to many people because it may not function like natural folate. Listed in ingredients as folic acid, it can accumulate in the blood as unmetabolized folic acid, which can be very harmful to the brain and body.

Genes

Genetic Mutation

Thirty percent or more of people have a high risk for folate deficiency due to a genetic mutation that renders them unable to convert synthetic folic acid to the natural active folate. This genetic mutation raises the risks for dysfunction and disease.

Without consuming adequate folate from food, deficiency can quickly occur in these people. Genetic testing for this mutation is important for those who have a high risk of folate deficiency.

Next step: Take the survey below.

Take the survey

Take the following survey to determine your risk of folate deficiency. This survey will provide you with a personalized risk level (low, moderate, or high) that you can use to better understand your health status.

Disclaimer

A high level of risk doesn’t mean that you have a serious health condition. It means that due to your present situation (lifestyle, health and habits), you have a higher risk for this condition.

Solutions

The best way to get folate is through folate-rich foods. It’s also important to avoid processed and “fortified” foods and supplements containing folic acid.

Folate-Rich Foods

Applies to:

High Risk
Moderate Risk
Low Risk

Many natural foods have folate, especially:

  • Asparagus.
  • Spinach.
  • Avocado.
  • Turkey.
  • Beef.
  • Lentils.

In addition to obtaining natural folates from a healthy diet, other nutrients help with their regulation. This is especially important for those individuals with the genetic mutation:

  • Choline (primarily found in egg yolks).
  • A variety of vegetables for natural antioxidants.
  • Omega-3 fats from fish oil.
  • Vitamin B2 (eggs, meats and dairy products).

Magnesium (spinach and other vegetables).

Folate Blood Tests & Supplementation

Applies to:

High Risk

Blood Tests

Health practitioners may perform various blood tests to help determine folate-related problems:

  • Homocysteine (associated with folate status).
  • Genetic tests for MTHFR DNA test (C677T and A1298C).
  • A CBC to measure red blood cell quality and quantity.
  • Unmetabolized folic acid.
  • Fasting serum folate and erythrocyte folate.

 Supplementation

Dietary supplements containing natural active folates may be important for people with higher folate needs — those with genetic mutations, and those who can’t/won’t eat sufficient folate-rich foods.

  • 5MTHF is the most useful folate for the body. Folinic acid is another natural folate form.
  • Beware: foods or supplements labeled “folic acid” do not contain natural folates.
  • When taking certain medications such as NSAIDs and drugs prescribed for seizures, ask your healthcare professional about folate supplementation.