How Folic Acid is Making Us Sick

by Sarah Healthy LivingComments: 94


folic acid is not healthy_mini

By Cara Comini of Health Home and Happiness

Editor”s Note:  Cara has done extensive research on how nutrition relates to disability, has used the GAPS diet protocols successfully with her own family, and strives to break down healthy habits into easy-to-accomplish changes for the average busy family. She uncovered the overlooked difference between folic acid and natural folate while doing research on the MTHFR gene mutation, and is alarmed that this isn’t more widely discussed especially in prenatal consultations.

Today she shares how 20-40% of our population do not produce enough of the enzyme needed to break down the synthetic folic acid found in supplements and fortified foods like boxed breakfast cereal and how its presence in the modern diet is likely contributing to many of our modern diseases. Just about every pregnant woman is told to supplement with synthetic folic acid rather than the natural form folate. This is alarming and is impacting the health of the generation of children being born right now.

I would encourage you to read and consider this information very carefully!


As a mom of a child who has struggled with disability (see our story about GAPS and Autism here), I’ve made it a priority to be proactive when it comes to my children’s health, and I have seen their health blossom because of it. I carefully research nutrition in pregnancy, make it a priority to avoid genetically modified foods and the dirty dozen, insist that my children take cod liver oil, and even start my babies on liver as a first food.

One little nutrient slipped by me until recently, though, and I’m kicking myself now.


That nutrient was folate. Folate, vitamin B9, is a water soluble vitamin used in just about every process in the body. It breaks down, builds, and uses proteins. It’s used in red blood cell production, DNA synthesis, and many more functions. Lack of it in pregnancy leads to neural tube defects including spina bifida and anencephaly. Lack of it in childhood and adulthood leads to growth problems, neurological problems, anemia, low white blood cell count, and more. (source)

Folate is naturally found in high amounts in leafy greens, sea weed, sunflower seeds, chicken liver, calf liver, leeks, and peppers. (source)

See, I thought I was safe because in addition to eating food daily that contained natural folate, as listed above, I also was taking a prenatal vitamin to make sure I wasn’t missing any. But I was wrong.

But I’m taking Folic acid, so I don’t have to worry about this, right?

Folic acid is the synthetic version of folate. It is true that most of the medical community uses the terms folate and folic acid interchangeably, but they enter the metabolic cycle in different ways, and natural folate is easier for the body to access than the cheap synthetic version folic acid (source).

When people have the MTHFR gene mutation, they do not turn folic acid into folate. In addition, the folic acid plugs the receptor sites in cells with an unusable form for these people. With the unusable folic acid in the receptor cites, the body is prevented from being able to use the folate that they do consume through natural food.

What is MTHFR?

MTHFR (yes, I hear a curse word every time I read that too) is a gene mutation that is relatively common (source) and is common among people on the autistic spectrum (source). When people have this gene mutation, they do not produce the amount of the enzyme dihydrofolate reductase needed to adequately convert folic acid into the form of folate that can enter the main folate metabolic cycle.

Why is Folic acid bad?

So many people are taught that taking an excess of water soluble vitamins isn’t a bad thing because they will just be excreted in the urine if they’re not needed. But in the case of folic acid in the body of a person who cannot process folic acid into usable folate, the folic acid ends up in the blood stream where it hogs the receptor cites on cells where folate is needed (source).

When unusable folic acid is taking up the receptor cites where real folate is needed, a folate deficiency occurs and the following can happen:

  • Neural tube defects
  • Recurrent miscarriages
  • Midline defects including tongue tie (read more about folate and tongue tie here)
  • Neurological problems
  • Anxiety (many people don’t realize they have anxiety until starting folate and having it go way down)
  • Growth problems
  • Thyroid problems
  • Anemia
  • And more

In addition, this excess folic acid has been linked to:

Where is Folic acid found? How can I avoid it?

Good news for Healthy Home Economist readers: Since folic acid is synthetic and made in a lab, it is never found in natural foods. The foods that are fortified are processed cereals, flour bought from the store, other processed foods, and supplements including multivitamins. So if we are eating all homemade foods, only use home ground flour and oats that are not fortified, we can avoid it by also avoiding supplements that contain it.

But wait!  My doctor says Folic acid is important to take

Doctors often use the terms ‘folic acid’ and ‘folate’ interchangeably. As discussed above, they are not interchangeable, just as margarine and butter are not interchangeable when studying the effect of saturated fat on heart disease.

If your doctor is open to it, I recommend starting a dialogue about research you have been doing on how folic acid is not as easily absorbed by many people, and that you are switching to folate or discontinuing additional folic acid supplementation.

Who knows, maybe your doctor will be inspired to research and will change the standard recommendation.

In any case, it is very unlikely that your doctor will prefer you take folic acid over folate, it is much more common that he or she will just insist that there is no difference.

What can I do?

I did these simple steps for my family upon reading about MTHFR and folate.

  1. Toss any fortified food in your house. Now!
  2. Toss any supplement containing folic acid.
  3. If you feel that you need to supplement with folate, choose a supplement with real folate or methyl folate (I take this one and I give my kids this one – I see lowered anxiety in myself with it, as well as increase in focus and energy, it’s too soon for me to be able to tell if it’s helping the kids yet).
  4. Diligently watch labels of all supplements for folic acid and avoid.
  5. Consider getting tested for MTHFR gene mutation so that you know how toxic folic acid really is for you.
  6. Learn more about supplementing with bio-available folate (you can learn more here). Some people who have been consuming folic acid need to replenish their stores.

Learn More About How to Be an Empowered Mother

cara comini

Cara Comini is passionate about helping families get a healthy start and has recently released her long-awaited book The Empowered Mother.

The Empowered Mother was written for smart, capable women who want to look at the pros and cons of procedures, interventions, supplements, medications, and more while they are pregnant. It has an easy-to-use guide to make sure women are not missing information on essential decisions that are made during pregnancy.

If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, this book will potentially save you from many decisions you might regret later!  Click here to learn more!


Sources and More Information

Beware of Ascorbic Acid: Synthetic Vitamin C

Is Your Vitamin C the Real Deal or a GMO Wannabe?

Picture Credit

Comments (94)

  • Carly

    What would you suggest that pregnant women take? the same thing you’re taking or something else?

    July 14th, 2016 12:51 pm Reply
  • Laura Wittke

    I am very interested in your assertion that the unmetabolizable folic acid “hogs the receptor sites” so that usable folate cannot be accessed. I carefully read the sources given but did not see any reference to receptor sites.

    Can you point this out to me, or direct me to the appropriate source? Would you be willing to reply to my email? I would hate to miss your reply.

    Many thanks,
    Laura Wittke MS RD LD

    October 5th, 2015 12:07 pm Reply
  • Julie

    I noticed you linked the same vitamin for both you and your kids. Do you give your children the same supplement and amounts?

    May 12th, 2015 6:33 am Reply
  • Thora

    What if your receptors are already blocked by synthetic folic acid? How do you get them unblocked?

    March 27th, 2015 5:20 pm Reply
  • Denise

    Juice plus is a great source of folate. It is all whole food nutrition. They have a great program for kids and it is endorsed by Dr Sears.

    March 27th, 2015 10:02 am Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Juice plus is highly processed and not a good choice. You can’t just powderize “the best parts” of the fruits and vegetables and expect health. You must eat the whole food as nature intended. There are no shortcuts.

      Oh, and I just took a look at the ingredients of the vegetable capsules one … it has folic acid, NOT folate! What a scam!

      Juice Plus ingredient: Gelatine capsules containing
      a dried powder blend of juice and pulp
      (60%) from (in varying proportions):
      carrot, parsley, beet, broccoli (14%) 
      kale, cabbage (3%) 
      a, tomato (5%) 
      a and
      spinach; anticaking agents: calcium car

      bonate, magnesium oxide, magnesium
      stearate; thickener: guar gum; beet pow

      der, vitamin  C, Spirulina pacifica, vita

      min E, garlic powder, Lactobacillus acido

      philus, beta-carotene, oat bran fibre, rice
      bran, folic acid, Dunaliella salina.

      March 27th, 2015 1:46 pm Reply
      • Barbara

        I contacted the company as I saw that the new packaging shows Folate and not Folic, and was told that they are changing over the packaging because the capsules are just natural folate. I believe in the US is where they have started it. I would contact them in your country to verify it, however.

        August 10th, 2015 11:31 pm Reply
  • Jenny

    Sign the White House Petition to end Mandatory Flour Fortification with Folic Acid linked to Cancer

    Sarah, please help spread the word. Write a post. Tweet it. Share it on Facebook!

    (And thank you!)

    February 26th, 2015 4:16 pm Reply
  • Christine

    choose a supplement with real folate or methyl folate (I take this one and I give my kids this one”

    Both links take you to the same supplement? Which one are you actually giving to your kids? thanks.

    February 2nd, 2015 1:11 pm Reply
    • Cara

      Hi! Sorry, I give them the b9/b12 lozenges and I take the capsule that has less in it.

      February 4th, 2015 9:55 pm Reply
      • JoAnne

        Reaction to L-5-MTHF by Designs for Health
        I started with 1 mg of folate, and within a couple days I was having arm and leg muscle pain as if I had been working out, which I wasn’t. At day 7 I said “what was the last thing I changed in my life?” voile’ I started taking folate. When I looked up side effect I discovered headaches which I also had were in that list. My Integrative medicine doctor recommended this supplement and dosage as well as CoQ10, which I don’t find side effects matching these. So I have stopped and wonder what I should do now. I have never been affected by supplements over the last 50 years. What say you”?

        February 8th, 2015 2:03 pm Reply
      • Krista

        Which one is the b9/b12 lozenge? The one from the link? I didn’t see the B9 mentioned. The cherry flavored one has 1000 mcg of B12. Is that too much for a ten year old? Maybe you could give the link for the one your kids take? Great article by the way. Thank you.

        April 14th, 2015 12:44 am Reply
        • Nikki

          B9 is folate

          March 18th, 2016 6:43 pm Reply
  • Karen

    Hello! I just found out my 3 year old son has 2 MTHFR genetic mutations and have also been told to supplement specifically with methylfolate. Being the “synthetic” hater that I am, I contacted some companies, including Seeking Health & Holistic Health International and was told that methylfolate is also synthetic (although it is supposed to be the form that is active in the human body). I would LOVE to know if anyone knows of a completely natural form of methylfolate, if one exists. It sounds like it is what my son needs, but using something synthetic makes me nervous. Here are the details sent from a Seeking Health representative:

    “The finished product is derived from tetrahydrofolic acid after a series of laboratory reactions, which are designed to mimic the metabolic processes that reduce folic acid within the human body. The end product, (6S)-5-MTHF, is structurally analogous to the predominant form of folate that is active in the human body. The original starting materials used to perform these reactions fall under a confidentiality agreement with the manufacturer, Gnosis, as part of their proprietary process.

    Methylfolate is produced naturally by enzymes active in the mammalian digestive and circulatory systems – but extracting methylfolate from a live mammalian source would be prohibitively expensive and unethical – no procedure exists to do so to my knowledge. The only other way to produce methylfolate would be synthetically, using laboratory processes similar to the ones employed by Gnosis.”

    Should I be concerned about using it for someone with the MTHFR mutation? From what I read having natural folate is not enough for them.

    Thanks in advance for any input you might have!

    February 1st, 2015 7:59 pm Reply
    • cheryl

      FOLATE NOT Filter

      May 12th, 2015 4:47 am Reply
  • Betsy

    Hmmmm, interesting. Been trying to get pregnant for 14 months, been taking prenatal since then. I think I will drop it and opt for peppers and avocado. 100g of avocado has 30% of what we need. Pretty goods. If you have never heard of the recipe, crazy sexy kale salad, it would be great for your intake of vitamins and minerals, and it’s delicious. Yesterday was my last day on prenatal, maybe I will get pregnant soon. (I should mention, we went to fertility clinic, and both my husband and I are good to go. Our reason is unknown for getting pregnant.)

    January 22nd, 2015 8:10 am Reply
    • Audrey Gregis

      Betsy, have you tried cutting out gluten? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard women who could never get pregnant, yet, as soon as they cut out gluten, boom, they got pregnant. Could happen in 2 months, may take longer. Depends on how much damage the gluten has done to your system.

      February 2nd, 2015 8:31 pm Reply
  • Rron

    Common, this article reeks of hype…remember, we all have to die so why not just enjoy the short time we all have on this planet without being obsessed and hyped up over something as banal as this… Why don’t you direct your energy to the real problems in this world? Hunger, slavery, homelessness, raping the 3rd world of their resources, invading and killing hundreds of thousands in foreign countries just so you can take your vitamins and play concerned mom on the internet? Where is your outcry over that?

    January 21st, 2015 9:15 am Reply
    • Annie

      Taking folate is not about politics , and saving the world.

      January 21st, 2015 5:53 pm Reply
  • ben

    Is there a source for

    “the folic acid plugs the receptor sites in cells with an unusable form for these people. With the unusable folic acid in the receptor cites, the body is prevented from being able to use the folate that they do consume through natural food.”

    January 20th, 2015 5:01 pm Reply
  • gabrielle

    i think you forget to mention that those of us with MTHFR mutation should not take a supplement folate by mouth either, but should be very aware and take 5MTHF or the like.

    January 19th, 2015 3:56 pm Reply
  • Debbie

    Your article is interesting to me and I am concerned because I have rheumatory arthritis. My course of treatment from my doctor is methotrexate and folic acid. This treatment has worked well for me regarding my arthritis and I can actually work full time and do what I need to do daily. My concern is what the long term effects of taking the folic acid will cause.

    January 17th, 2015 10:44 pm Reply
  • Lori

    Do you and your kids take the exact same supplement?
    The two links to the supplement are exactly the same…

    January 17th, 2015 10:34 am Reply
  • Maia

    For crying out – eat your greens. It’s the same with all your anti natal vitamins and tablets. What’s wrong with having salads and greens every night? Just don’t give them rubbish food. That would also eliminate trips to the doctor to listen to silly talk. You cannot get better than real fruit and veg….

    January 16th, 2015 1:39 pm Reply
    • Kieran

      Heartily agree. our physiological food for millions of years has been fruit, veggies, greens, nuts, seeds! not some creepy fishy oils dredged from the oceans or toxic lab synthesized fatty acids. Eat pure! Be sure!!

      January 21st, 2015 12:09 pm Reply
    • Karissa

      This should be true, and yet it isn’t fully possible. Our soils have become so depleted of minerals because of overplanting and overuse of pesticides that our veggies no longer have all the vitamins and nutrients we need.

      January 21st, 2015 2:39 pm Reply
  • dawn

    Please google search “FDA to Ban Folate”
    A petition is started to make FDA keep their hands off our supplements. If this happens big pharma will be the only one who can dispense your natural folate. Life threatening for someone like me and my family with a mythelation ( MTHFR ) disorder. I had two pulmonary emolisms and a stroke until I finally found out about disorder. News flash…wasn’t from my medical Dr. either. I had to ask for this test and most Drs don’t have a clue about and not very willing to learn. Believe me when I say generations can be affected if properly diagnosed and treated with a simple natural form. Got to ask yourself Man-made or natural?
    Stop the FDA control over our health for profit. Watch the documentary “Bought”

    January 15th, 2015 1:48 am Reply
  • Jh

    in both my pregnancy s I started feeling sick just after I started taking folic acid. Only in my second pregnancy, when I could not contain any food at all I found out it was folic acid that made me sick. As soon as I dared to stop (yes, they almost make you believe you commit a crime if you do not take folic acid) i started feeling soooo much better. Even my dokter told me it could not be the folic acid that made me sick.
    I am happy that I have learned so much about natural food, and I continue my own search after good health. Can you believe that I didn’t even know the difference between margarin and butter? I learned all of what I know about food today online in the last 5 years, only after my children were born, so keep up the good work in your blog and thank you!

    January 14th, 2015 2:32 am Reply
  • ChElsea

    Do you have a cookbook you would recommend to pregnant women?

    January 13th, 2015 9:03 am Reply
  • Mary Rostenberg

    MTHFR is such an exciting and new area of research. My husband is a doctor and researcher who has tons of blogs and videos to help people understand their own methylation issues. Come learn at !

    January 12th, 2015 5:25 pm Reply
  • Mary Baechler

    I too am concerned about your article, want to learn more, and would like more sources if you have them. My area, eastern Washington state, is the site of a neural tube defect (anencephaly) cluster. Right now the CDC and Dept of Health do not have a cause; but are cautioning women to get more folate before pregnancy. I would be very, very careful about discouraging women from supplementing, at least in our area. We have lost 50 babies since 2010, in a 3 country region, to anencephaly– we are at 5 times the national rate. It could be related to unfortified masa in tortillas (we are 50% Latino here) or not enough consumption of food sources.

    So do you have more sources, e.g. studies, for what you are saying?

    Thank you
    Certified Nutritionist, Yakima, Wa.

    January 12th, 2015 4:17 pm Reply
    • Elana Rouse

      Mary, look up the next seminar for Dr Neil Rawlins in Richland, WA. It is hosted by Kadlec Neuroscience Center with free seminars at the Richland Red Lion. I think there is one soon, perhaps this week. I have gone to two so far and done a lot of research online. His seminar is the best starting place if you want to be able to ask questions in person.

      January 13th, 2015 12:47 am Reply
    • Lily

      Go to . Excellent website by Dr. Ben Lynch, with mountains of information.

      January 13th, 2015 1:28 am Reply
    • Lexi

      This is a good starting place for research on this topic…

      March 24th, 2015 10:16 pm Reply
  • Annie

    I’m very grateful for your information about Folic Acid, and “Folate”.
    I was just buying more folic acid from Amazon, when I noticed your email coming through.

    Drs. do Not know the difference that is for sure. I have Never heard a Dr. say, Buy Folate, NOT Folic Acid & why..(We are friends with many Drs.).

    Drs. might get 4 hours of Alternative medicine in med school unfortunately, and once out, they do not have the time to find out that Herbs, vitamins, and Food are medicine and do not harm the body if there not abused.

    Btw, is that your little boy, or is that You? It kind of takes your credibility away seeing a young child jumping around answering these questions in 1960 clothes!!!

    Now don’t give me a rash of Bs for my comment.!

    Wishing you all a Healthy New Year, with allot of Laughter..

    January 2nd, 2015 2:28 pm Reply
  • Lindsey Morrow

    I am oddly excited that MTHFR, which I have, is mentioned in an article. Yay! :) I also don’t take folic acid (even though they tell me to) but I take folate via folapro.

    December 20th, 2014 3:35 pm Reply
  • Annie,

    What is a Tongue & Lip Tie?

    Thank You…

    December 20th, 2014 6:18 am Reply
    • Alyssa

      Hi Annie. A tongue tie is when the frenulum (the tissue connecting the lip to the lower “floor” of the mouth is too far out, causing a variety of issues but the most commonly known is speech. A lip tie is when the upper frenulum is also extended too far out. Here is a great article on both topics. These can be very troublesome to mothers breastfeeding young babies.

      March 23rd, 2015 8:48 pm Reply
  • Veronica

    I am curious if there is a better folate supplement out there? The one recommended in this article (the link to amazon) has Zylitol, natural cherry flavor, and a couple other things in it. Would love to know, as I am looking for a folate supplement. Thanks!!

    December 18th, 2014 8:11 pm Reply
    • Cara

      Yes, seeking health has a whole line of them. I haven’t looked into other companies, but I”m sure there are others.

      December 19th, 2014 11:21 pm Reply
  • Sam

    Hi Cara,
    I am a dietitian and am not going to jump on the defensive bandwagon and tell you your wrong, I would just like to point out to you that you need to consider all of the evidence before you produce articles that can be very persuasive for people. The folic acid claim is based on 20 years of concrete research with a definitive meta-analysis of the direct link between folic acid and its prevention of neural tube defects in the first 28 days of conception. After the first 28 days the expecting mother does not need to continue taking the folic acid if they do not want to. Before you can start making claims like this, there needs to be randomised control trials with definitive results done to make this claim plausible. I am not saying that your wrong, for all we know you could be right. However the evidence your referring to does not produce the same recurring results in a variety of settings and therefore cannot be concluded that folic acid supplements are detrimental to health. To start telling pregnant women not to take the folic acid when their diets are lacking is very unethical if you do not have this conclusive evidence to support this. It is all good and well to encourage women to eat more foods high in folate, however from experience a lot of women will not do this and there isn’t enough time in the first 28 days to work with the mothers to produce results that fast. I know a mother who lost two babies to anencephaly and during those pregnancies she did not take any supplements. Her third baby she decided to take the supplements and the baby was born healthy. To this day mum and her child are still extremely healthy with no dramas. Again I would just like to point out that I’m not saying your wrong, I’m just saying please please consider all of the evidence and the ethics behind your claims before you write articles like these. This generally worries me especially for expecting mothers and their newborn baby’s health. I have counselled mothers who have lost babies before and its a horrible experience to go through, especially if its something they think they could’ve done differently.

    Kind Regards,

    December 18th, 2014 5:47 pm Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      No one is saying don’t get enough natural folate … yes this is necessary to prevent neural tube defects. No one is arguing this point!

      But, to suggest women take these prenatals loaded with synthetic folic acid and to fortify all manner of processed foods with folic acid which causes many more health problems than it solves? Stupidity.

      December 19th, 2014 8:59 am Reply
    • Lisa

      Reading comprehension is your friend. She’s not saying don’t supplement, she’s saying supplement with FOLATE not folic acid. And the evidence is growing stronger and stronger against using folic acid in all populations, not just those with MTHFR because it does NOT work the same as folate. Yeah, if someone is severely deficient AND able to process it, it can help with deficiency, but not in a benign way. It’s also causing problems. Better to avoid both problems and deficiency and take folate supplements if needed.

      December 19th, 2014 6:32 pm Reply
      • Cara

        Thank you! The reason I’m concerned about this is because I believe (this hasn’t been studied, I don’t have trials, and this isn’t medical advice) that things like sacral dimples, tongue/lip tie, and other midline defects are pointing to the idea that my family might be more susceptible to having a child with NTDs (also a midline defect) even with consuming folic acid.

        Just because folic acid has reduced the amount of NTDs since it started being advised doesn’t mean that another form of folate isn’t *better*. Nobody is saying to avoid folate.

        December 19th, 2014 11:26 pm Reply
        • Meg

          Pubmed has many trials on MTHFR and folic acid.

          May 14th, 2015 2:52 am Reply
    • mick

      Or not.
      I mean really.. from experience.. I know many people who would be dead right now if they waited for controlled studies to confirm that common sense makes sense. There is no case anyone could make about this that could say a synthetic form is better than the natural form. It violates everything logical and the only reason the studies were done on folic acid is because the studies come from a whole generation that believed synthetics were fine. A study on the effectiveness of a synthetic was never dual tested to show the percentage not absorbed in the test subject. Studies most commonly have a single agenda.
      Our bodies were never designed for synthic anything.

      December 20th, 2014 3:16 pm Reply
    • Mary Baechler


      Thank you; the ethics are a really good point. I was a midwife long ago, and when I trained in a school for midwifes, our instructor said to stay away from herbal treatments, unless we took extensive training. She said we had no right to experiment with someone’s baby. Adele Davis was talking about the need for folate/folic acid supplementation in the 1970’s, and the decrease in neural tube defects after fortification is well-documented.

      In my area (see post above), we have excess nitrates in wells (20% of wells are in excess of Federal levels)and I found a lot of articles connecting nitrates and neural tube defects. It may be the nitrates degrade folate.


      January 12th, 2015 4:29 pm Reply
  • Keith Loreth

    Dr Abram Hoffer is probably rolling is his grave with all this hype on Folic acid as well as all the important people that have not bought into all the hype about how one form of Vitamin or mineral is so superior than another. I have been in the Vitamin industry as a Nutritional consultant for many years,and have seen this hype over and over again. Victims are the consumer who waste there money when they could buy inexpensive effective regular Folic acid that works well. I myself take 15 mg of Folic acid and have for many years,prescribed by a well known Dr who also practices alternative medicine. One way to enhance absorption of Vitamins and minerals is to use Betaine Hydrochloride and pepsin which produces stomach acid for good digestion of nutrients from food and supplements.

    December 18th, 2014 3:57 pm Reply
    • Cara

      I’ve been meaning to try Betaine HCL and pepsin for a while, I haven’t tried it yet but I’ve heard good things about it. I disagree that folic acid as is sold cheaply is the same. I would also argue that different kinds of iron and calcium are more effective than others as well.

      December 19th, 2014 11:43 pm Reply
    • Karen

      Ok Keith. If you understand the article correctly, what is said is, MTHFR gene mutatios are in 30-40% of the population. So. The 60 70% who don’t have this gene mutation ‘can’ process ‘folic acid’ the rest cannot, causing much illness, like autism, Alzheimers, Parkinsons, ALS, cancer, MS, CFS, ADHD, diabetes, thyroid, spina bifada, cleft lip. SO, natural FOLATE supplementation is essential to many millions. FDA is being pressured by big Pharma to get Folate out of our hands and into theirs so they can control it. Folate is a big one, but if they control this what else will they control? Until 5 years ago. I had no clue. Then all hell broke loose and my mother became ill, in great pain, then dementia symptoms, her sister at the same time enveloping ALS and her brother dying from cancer and Parkinsons…. SO don’t tell me that ‘naturals’ are not needed. This story is just to detailed, but finding out my mother has MTHFR and her sister, (and probably their brother), now me and my sister are dealing with thyroid andmI’m also dealing w blood sugar issues. I pray it is not too late for us to avoid the illnesses of my family.

      February 15th, 2015 9:08 pm Reply
  • Tiffany wood

    Can I please add this post to my website? Thank you for posting. This is awesome research!!

    December 17th, 2014 11:01 pm Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      You may reprint a small excerpt of this article and link over to the original on this website for the remainder of the article.

      December 18th, 2014 8:07 am Reply
  • Cathy Jacobsen

    This is total rubbish. I had trouble getting pregnant for 10 years after my first son was born. After 10 years the specialist said…take folic acid …so I did. I finally had a successful pregnancy….thanks to the addition of folic acid.

    December 17th, 2014 7:04 pm Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      So it’s been scientifically proven that your successful pregnancy was due to synthetic folic acid? I doubt that!

      December 18th, 2014 8:10 am Reply
    • Jeanmarie

      Congratulations on your healthy pregnancy, but, your solution won’t work for everyone. It is a common logical fallacy to generalize from one’s own individual experience to everyone else. Your experience doesn’t say *anything* about the validity of the research cited. You may be among those that have enough of the enzyme to break down folic acid. That doesn’t mean that this isn’t a real issue for the 20-40% of the population that doesn’t. It may also be coincidental that you got pregnant after taking folic acid; you can’t rule out that it was another factor you haven’t isolated.

      December 18th, 2014 9:27 am Reply
    • Eric Potter MD

      Good evening,
      Actually, your story proves that the folate / methylation pathway is critical for fertility and healthy pregnancies. Further explanation could be that you are not someone who has difficulty converting folic acid, but were deficient in your diet. Or possibly, you do have difficulty processing it and the higher dose helped overcome that.
      MTHFR and the problems with folic acid are real and have science to back them up. I would disagree with the statement that they are rubbish.
      Eric Potter MD
      Sanctuary Medical Care and Consulting
      Wholistic healthcare for the glory of God (Col. 3:23)
      None of this post is meant to be medical advice. Consult your medical provider for advice.

      December 18th, 2014 9:00 pm Reply
  • Lucy

    My doctor, a chronic fatigue specialist, just tested me for the MTHFR gene mutation. In my life I have had chronically low serotonin. I have read that folate helps with the production of serotonin. Low serotonin led in me to: Bipolar disorder and seasonal affective disorder. I also have an autism spectrum disorder called non-verbal learning disability. Also, I have chronic fatigue syndrome. Could it be I wonder, that if I have the gene mutation (there are a couple different mutations), that it could be a partial cause of all these problems I have had?? I found a B-complex by Douglas Labs with two forms of folate in it, methyl folate being one of them. I’m going to try it and see if it helps me. It could potentially help with mood, and cognitive issues like focus, also energy–folate is an important contributor to the methylation cycle, hence my doctor’s interest in it. I have spent the last 6 years studying natural health and am treating all my problems naturally with food and through treating nutritional deficiencies. Adding real folate in could be a major missing link for me. Thank you for your article, it was very informative.

    December 16th, 2014 3:15 pm Reply
    • amalia

      A product I’m taking under the guidance of my doctor is a topical cream called ‘Neuro-immune stabilizer’ by the company Neuro Biologix. I have the heterozygous mutation of the MTHFR gene. This article is absolutely correct! If a person doesn’t have the ability to produce the enzyme their bodies cannot convert homocysteine back into methionine leading to an increase in the blood which can cause inflammation.

      December 18th, 2014 10:26 am Reply
  • Jean

    My mother was deficient in folic acid and had Alzheimer. When it was supplemented her Alzheimer disease improved dramatically. Please be careful when publishing such articles. You even note that only 20-40% of the population could have this problem. Folic acid is a valuable nutrient that many have a deficiency of and in that population it can save minds and prevent birth defects and other health issues.

    December 16th, 2014 1:35 pm Reply
    • Cara

      Folic acid is the synthetic version of folate, which is advised in this article. Nobody is advocating avoiding b9 (folate), just the synthetic version which is less bio-available than other forms.

      December 17th, 2014 10:44 am Reply
    • Eric Potter MD

      Good evening,
      “Folate” is important. I agree totally. However, scientific studies indicate that excessive folate (especially in persons genetically susceptible to higher buildup) can cause other problems (white blood cell dysfunction) and interfere with transport of folate to breast milk. Science also shows that methyl-folate is a more potent and more active form which allows the nutrient to enter the methylation cycle downstream, nearer to the action.
      Not everyone “needs” methylfolate as much as the other, but if you don’t know your genetics, taking methylfolate is a safer bet.

      Eric Potter MD
      Sanctuary Medical Care and Consulting
      Wholistic healthcare for the glory of God (Col. 3:23)
      None of this post is meant to be medical advice. Consult your medical provider for advice.

      December 18th, 2014 9:04 pm Reply
  • Karen @ On the Banks of Salt Creek

    I take Fola Pro from Metagenics. It is L-5 Methyltetrahydrofolate. 800 mcg and I take two per day.

    December 16th, 2014 12:07 pm Reply
  • Abraham

    I just wanted to point out that the article that you linked to this about a connection to breast cancer seems to be a bit of a stretch. The author of the study concluded that the link to breast cancer was attributed to alcohol consumption rather than folic acid.

    December 16th, 2014 10:04 am Reply
    • Cara

      It is – there is a link, but correlation does not equal causation for sure. It’s interesting to note that a high level of synthetic folic acid in the diet may not be as benign as previously thought though. Most people have been under the impression that since folic acid is a water soluble vitamin, it would just get flushed out in the urine if taken too much (as in people who consume a lot of processed food, which is fortified), but that might not be the case.

      December 16th, 2014 1:03 pm Reply
    • Karen J Moseley

      I had a radical mastectomy and have never consumed alcohol in my life. When I read through this post, I see many health issues that I have had or continue to struggle with and tend to believe that it’s certainly something to look at. Thank You, for opening my eyes to a potential problem!

      December 24th, 2014 12:15 pm Reply
  • Flora

    I wish you would answer the questions about why the supplements you suggest are with b12. is this just specific to your family’s needs? Because our recent blood work shows plenty of b12 and I would not want to supplement b12 at all. Why the two together? What about folate on its own?
    Also, I believe a number of multi vitamins that are whole foods based are now using folate instead of folic acid. I have known for several years not to use folic acid and have watched out for it. What do you think about a whole foods based prenatal or multi with folate?
    Of course food is best. But knowing that not every child or even adult is eating just right… sometimes nature based supplementation can be of great value.

    December 16th, 2014 1:42 am Reply
    • Cara

      The problem with blood testing is that it measures what vitamins are in the blood. What we want to know is how much is getting absorbed into the cells. It can be that there is an excess amount of a certain vitamin (for example, b12 or b9) in the blood stream because it isn’t a usable form, so the metabolic process of actually getting it where it needs to go isn’t happening fast enough, and there’s an excess amount in the blood stream.

      I’m not saying that’s the case for you, I don’t know about your family, but it’s just one of the down sides of blood testing. People can make false assumptions from it.

      In our family, I tried the kids on the b12/folate because I didn’t see a difference from the regular folate and I was wondering if the combo would work better. I tend to supplement my family based on symptoms, not blood work.

      December 16th, 2014 11:30 am Reply
      • Eric Potter MD

        I agree with that approach.

        Eric Potter MD
        Sanctuary Medical Care and Consulting
        Wholistic healthcare for the glory of God (Col. 3:23)
        None of this post is meant to be medical advice. Consult your medical provider for advice.

        December 18th, 2014 9:06 pm Reply
      • Karen

        When measuring for B12 and folate check these:

        Serum vit B12
        RBC (red blood cell) Folate
        MMA methylmalonic acid
        Intrinsic Factor antibody

        The combination of these measurements will help you or your Dr truly decide if you are deficient in B12 and Folate. Check out book ‘Could It Be B12?’ Any kind of antacid can produce deficiencies especially B12 and Magnesium. MTHFR mutation doesn’t allow B12/folate to process in body and can build up., especially ‘folic acid’ to toxic levels.

        February 15th, 2015 11:52 pm Reply
    • Cara

      I answered below, comments are moderated to prevent spam from coming through.

      In addition, many multis and prenatals claim to be food based, but they also contain additional (cheaper) synthetic vitamins. I was taking a ‘whole food’ prenatal unknowing that the folic acid in it didn’t come from food. I know to check into specifics more now.

      December 16th, 2014 1:06 pm Reply
    • Lynne

      B-12 and folate work together in methylation (their chemical job). An excess of folate can lead to a relative deficiency of B-12, which can have consequences such as neuropathy.

      December 16th, 2014 1:28 pm Reply
  • Michelle

    I actually would get sick every time that I took my prenatals and for all 3 of my pregnancies had to stop taking them, to me they made “morning sickness” seem like a cake walk. I HAD to eat as healthy as I could. So glad my body wisdom (as we call it in our house) knew those prenatals were no good for me! Just wished I didn’t try taking them inthe beginning for each pregnancy :(

    December 16th, 2014 12:14 am Reply
    • Karissa

      Seeking Health actually has a prenatal that doesn’t contain synthetic folic acid and has methylated B12.
      That is what I plan to take next pregnancy since hubby is homozygous MTHFR. Unfortunately I didn’t know that for my last pregnancies and took a regular prenatal. None of my kids have been tested, but at least one shows the signs so they all take methylfolate and we avoid processed foods. Live and learn!

      December 16th, 2014 3:22 pm Reply
      • Eric Potter MD

        Seeking Health is the brand my pregnant wife is taking now.
        Avoiding processed foods is another good idea.

        Eric Potter MD
        Sanctuary Medical Care and Consulting
        Wholistic healthcare for the glory of God (Col. 3:23)
        None of this post is meant to be medical advice. Consult your medical provider for advice.

        December 18th, 2014 9:07 pm Reply
  • Melissa Womack

    Been looking into the supplements you suggested, Cara. Any reason why you chose the ones with B-12 for your kiddos? I want to try some folate supplements with my kiddo (likely ASD), but am scared to up his energy levels with the high B-12, as his energy levels are adequate, 😉 I see just plain folate supplements by the same company, without the B-12. Is there some kind of synergistic property I’m not realizing, and need to take into consideration?

    December 15th, 2014 7:32 pm Reply
    • Cara

      I believe if they’re low on B12, they can’t use the folate as well.

      December 15th, 2014 9:01 pm Reply
  • Neil

    Apologies for being plain here, but this is a classic example of the downside of the internet. For readers of the article- please be aware that folic acid supplements reduce the risk of neural tube defects such as cerebral palsy. Please seek information from people who have actually done research, not well meaning people who have done a lot of reading.

    December 15th, 2014 6:58 pm Reply
    • Mandy A

      She did not recommend not taking anything at all. Methylfolate is a more bioavailable version of folic acid. There are also whole food vitamins. I personally take Thorne Research Medipro Multi. It’s nearly identical to their Basic Prenatal formula, but can be purchased in higher counts. There is also Emerald Labs.

      December 16th, 2014 3:39 am Reply
    • lisa

      CP is not a neural tube defect …

      December 16th, 2014 4:05 am Reply
    • Jeanmarie

      Beware people who comment without reading the article or, apparently, understanding it. FOLATE is the nutrient in question, which we all need (aka B9). FOLIC ACID is a synthetic form of it, which is not well metabolized by a certain percentage of the population. You are not discouraged from taking FOLATE through, ideally, real, whole food or good quality supplements. You are advised of the possibility that taking FOLIC ACID instead of FOLATE may put you at risk for certain health problems.

      Got it?

      December 18th, 2014 9:35 am Reply
  • Krystle

    Those studies you cited don’t actually say what you claim they say. They are random studied, and one even admitted that Folic Acid was merely one factor. You need more than one study to make something quotable.

    December 15th, 2014 3:55 pm Reply
    • Cara

      Which study in particular are you referring to? I linked to quite a few. I’ll agree that they’re not perfect, sometimes we have to go with ‘not perfect’ – for me this was enough evidence to try a different form of folate for my family, but of course everyone has to make their own choices.

      December 15th, 2014 6:18 pm Reply
  • Maryanna Bond

    I enjoy your newsletters and appreciate the information. Certainly you must be studying active research done on this. Can you quote some of your sources at the end of your newsletters in the future? I’m shocked that our food source in USA is allowed to contain so many untested substances, and the stubbornness of America to test and verify the safety of these additives before putting them in food! This situation is getting alarming as I learned today how much of our food supply includes questionable additions like synthetic vitamins, GMO’s, etc. The situation is getting worse! Many people that read your newsletters would agree but, I believe most of us are powerless to get the system to change as it seems only politicians and big corporations have the power to do whatever they want. We can’t all grow our own food!

    December 15th, 2014 1:56 pm Reply
  • Jess

    Why do you give your children 1000 mcg and you take 800 mcg (methylfolate). Just curious. Thanks for sharing!

    December 15th, 2014 11:59 am Reply
    • Cara

      I take 4 and I only give them one :) I slowly increased the dose until I saw results, and I do a trial every 2-3 days with all of us of nothing to make sure we’re not getting too much. Ideally, without the folic acid causing problems, eventually we’ll be able to just get what we need from food.

      December 15th, 2014 1:05 pm Reply
      • Madeline

        What do you mean by “trial run”? How do know when to stop increasing? I went to a homeopathic dr once and she had me on 8,000mcg of activated folate. She said I was very deficient, but I always wondered if I was taking too much.

        December 16th, 2014 7:40 am Reply
        • Cara

          I usually only use supplements if I can see a difference. If I don’t see a difference on the days we skip b12/folate, then I’ll try going two days without it. If I notice symptoms coming back (hyperactivity, lack of focus, low energy, etc) then I’ll only skip one day. It’s kind of complicated to explain, but I err on the side using the least effective dose.

          December 16th, 2014 10:50 am Reply
  • Mandyb

    We have been using nutritional yeast for years because it is high in folate….hoping this is still a good thing.

    December 15th, 2014 11:44 am Reply
  • Ellen

    Thank you for writing about the dangers of folic acid. I have been studying Ben Lynch’s work and also Amy Yasko’s work for about 18 months, and addressing my methylation genetics with active B vitamins cured my chronic fatigue.

    The supplements you take have a lot of methyl B12 in them and that is often not well tolerated. Many people do better on HydroxyB12. Please look into Amy Yasko’s simplified protocol at
    for more information.

    December 15th, 2014 11:09 am Reply
  • Tricia

    It is probably no coincidence that since docs have been pushing folic acid on pregnant women in the 80’s that is about the time Autism spiked along with ADHD and food allergies and learning disorders and so on. I wish I knew then what I know now. I can only move forward and help my kids help their kids. One could get tested for mthfr (I did and have to worst of the possible mutations) but truth is everyone, not just those with the defect, should avoid folic acid.

    December 15th, 2014 11:06 am Reply
  • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

    Thank you for this informative post Cara! When I was pregnant, I was vigilant to avoid any sources of synthetic vitamins in either fortified foods or supplements including prenatals. I never took a prenatal vitamin, ever, with any of my pregnancies. I didn’t have this information to go on, just my intuition that this was not a good thing for myself or my baby. As more information like this comes to light that synthetic vitamins are not even close to the real thing and can actually be harmful to health, I am so glad I trusted my gut and threw those scripts for prenatals in the trash where they belonged and followed a Traditional Diet instead which is loaded with natural folate.

    December 14th, 2014 10:46 pm Reply
    • Cara

      Thanks for posting it Sarah, I mistakenly thought that folate and folic acid were the same thing, ug. I know that the WAPF says no prenatals, and they were right again! I would have been better off.

      December 15th, 2014 10:44 am Reply
      • Eric Potter MD

        Thanks for raising parents’ awareness on this issue.

        Eric Potter MD
        Sanctuary Medical Care and Consulting
        Wholistic healthcare for the glory of God (Col. 3:23)
        None of this post is meant to be medical advice. Consult your medical provider for advice.

        December 18th, 2014 9:10 pm Reply
    • Stephanie

      I wish i could understand why it is ok to not take a prenatal during pregnancy? I took a herbal prenatal suring my last pregnancy and it really helps. I feel it is important to cover all my bases just in case my diet isn’t very good, although i try to eat well.

      February 1st, 2015 1:24 pm Reply

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