We as the population of the world have suffered through many chronic diseases. We are no different than people, especially people that claimed to be medical professionals, from two centuries ago. Medicine is still practiced as an art with some science thrown in end to give credibility to our claims. Now has the medical industrial complex once again deceived us with the introduction of folic acid to make up for our L-methyl folate deficiency? A qualified answer to this question is yes.
Folic acid is not a naturally occurring molecule. It was first processed in the 1940’s in a laboratory. In 1998, folic acid was added to ‘fortify’ foods, especially grains. The reasoning was that the population and especially pregnant mothers were deficient. This was causing neural tubes defects. It is true that neural tube defects have been reduced and this is a good thing.
Now researchers are saying that folic acid that remains in the blood stream is causing an increased incidence in several cancers including breast, colon, and prostate cancer. It seems that at least ten percent of the population has the MTHFR polymorphism and keeps folic acid from quickly being converted to methyl folate, the natural occurring substance in foods that our body uses. Others have said that at least seventy percent of the population has some form of polymorphism that slows the process. The excess folic acid circulating in the blood causes a reduction in the action of our natural killer cells. This is believed to be the issue of increased cancer rates.
Also, the methyl folate is the primary contributing nutrient to the genetic switching that occurs from the methyl cycle. How the methyl cycle is controlled in the body by methyl folate is extremely important and second only to the action of vitamin D. Genetic switching is what keeps you healthy. Whether the gene is properly turned on or off is critical to your health. Dr. Randy Jirtle in his work at Duke University has shown this to be the case with his study on mice and methyl donors. There is a host of chronic disease that you may review at the MTHFR.net website.
If you consider that fortification begin in 1998, I believe this is about the same time the incidence of autism significantly increased. The importance of folate to the neural system is that it acts directly in the mitochondrial body in the sulfur cycle. Here the various sulfate molecules that the body needs are created. The ones related to the neural system is the molecule that is created for the myelin sheath that covers the nerve pathways. Without the integrity of this sheath, the neurons cannot appropriately fire because the sodium, potassium, and magnesium are not held closely to the neurons.
Also a study in Italy that was designed to show the effect of folate on heart disease, it was found that there was thickening of the cartilage in patients with higher amounts of folate. I am sure this effect is caused by genetic switching with cofactors like B6, B12, and vitamin D.
I have not been able to find a vitamin B complex supplement that has methyl folate and not folic acid. In the practice of medicine, folic acid and folate are considered to be the same compound. Folic acid is the oxidized form of L-methyl folate NOT A NATURALLY OCCURING COMPOUND. This is the same error that was made with vitamin D when vitamin D2 was said to be equal to vitamin D3. In the 1930’s when the substitution was made to vitamin D2 is when the cases of vitamin D toxicity started to occur in the medical literature.
What can you do? Stop supplementing with all forms of folic acid. Be careful in how much food you consume that has been fortified with folic acid. Maybe this is one of the primary issues with wheat. Dr. William Davis in his book, “Wheat Belly” says there are many issues with wheat. Fortification of our cereal with folic acid may have exacerbated the situation and is causing more chronic disease. Methyl folate is available in many foods, especially dark leafy greens like spinach. A boiled half cup of spinach has about 134 micrograms of folate. In the consumption of beans, black-eyed peas are the highest at 105 mcg per one half cup. Liver has the highest amount in the meats at 215 mcg in one half cup.
There many brands of methyl folate supplements on the market. Try to get at least 400 mcg per day from your foods, if not supplement. As I was writing this my wife called to see what I wanted for dinner. I suggested boiled spinach, black-eyed peas, and liver cook with onions (for the sulfate). She hung up the phone. I did actually get turnip greens, black-eyed peas, and steak. Not the best but close. Maybe the popular attitude of the 50’s and 60’s was correct. “I’m strong to the finish ‘cause I eats me spinach, I’m Popeye the sailor man!” Sing along! What a medical professional – Popeye! – Pandemic Survivor