Why folic acid may be bad for you (and what to do about it)

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by mbofov, Aug 8, 2011.

  1. mbofov

    mbofov Active Member

    Folic acid is a synthetic form of folate. Folic acid does not occur naturally in any food. Our bodies have to convert folic acid into a form which they can use. Unfortunately, a large percentage of the population have difficulty converting this synthetic substance into a form useable by the body (I’ve read it’s over 50%).

    This inability to use folic acid has a couple of unfortunate side effects. One of the major ones is that excess folic acid circulating in the body prevents the body from absorbing the folate that it gets from food or other sources, which, paradoxically enough, can lead to an actual folate deficiency. And, one of the chief signs of a folate deficiency is fatigue. It causes a form of anemia.

    So how many of you who think you’re doing great by getting lots of folic acid may actually be harming yourselves? And folic acid can also contribute to difficulties with methylation, because again, for many of us, folic acid prevents our bodies from using any folate we manage to get from foods, and folate is needed for the methylation cycle to properly work. I can’t help but wonder how much of the difficulty with methylation faced by PWCs is due to folic acid! Richvank’s simplified methylation protocol no longer contains folic acid. (For those of you still taking Actifolate, be aware that it does contain folic acid, but Actifolate is no longer part of the protocol.)

    Excess folic acid places a burden on the liver and also has been linked to some cancers. (Google “folic acid liver” for more info - it appears we metabolize folic acid much slower than originally thought, leading to a buildup in the body). To make matters worse, we not only get folic acid in almost every multivitamin and B complex, but much of our food is fortified with folic acid, including grains and other foods. In 1996 the FDA mandated that folic acid be added to enriched bread, grains, cereals, pasta, etc.

    So what can you do? We do need folate and there are now several supplements available that contain l-methylfolate (Metafolin brand name), a form of folate which is in a form readily usable by our bodies and which also crosses the blood-brain barrier. Solgar makes a Metafolin supplement, and Douglas Labs and Pure Encapsulations make a B complex which contains Metafolin. Rich believes we also need a form of folate called folinic acid, and Thorne Research Lab makes a B complex which contains both l-methylfolate and folinic acid.

    When supplementing with folate, it is very important to take adequate B12 at the same time. Folic acid has been shown to mask B12 deficiencies, which can lead to neurological damage if the B12 deficiency is not corrected. I don’t know if l-methylfolate has the same masking properties.

    Here’s a link to an article I posted a week or so ago, which contains a lot of this information:
    (And again, moderators, I do have permission to post this link and the article)

    I first became aware of problems with folic acid roughly 4 months ago after reading posts by Freddd of the Phoenix Rising board, who has put together a B12/folate protocol based on his own experience. (I’ve been doing his protocol since that time and in general, have had an increase in energy since starting it, although I’ve had to start supplementing with potassium - for more info on Freddd’s protocol, go to: http://forums.phoenixrising.me/showthread.php?11522-Active-B12-Protocol-Basics

    (again, moderators, I have Freddd’s permission to post this)

    It’s worth looking at your CBC blood panel (the major blood work many doctors do each year). Check out your MCV (mean corpuscular volume) levels. A high number can indicate a B12 and/or folate deficiency. My MCV number has been at the top of the normal range for many years but only one doctor pointed this out to me, explaining that my red blood cells were larger than normal to compensate for a B12 or folate deficiency. Well, why did I have such a deficiency since I’ve been taking lots of B12 (doing shots for several years) as well as plenty of B vitamins for a long time? All I can figure is the folic acid. The fact that my energy has increased since stopping folic acid in all forms (including in B complex and multivitamin), and starting metafolin, as well as continuing to take B12 (in the form of methylcobalamin), indicates to me that folic acid is a major problem for me, and I would guess for many of you as well.

  2. richvank

    richvank New Member

    Hi, Mary.

    I appreciate your posting this information about folic acid.

    I want to note that while I have modified the simplified methylation treatment protocol to minimize folic acid in favor of increasing the folinic acid and methylfolate, there is still a small amount of folic acid in the revised protocol, in the Yasko multi. I have kept this multi in the protocol because of the other ingredients it has that are directed particularly toward the methylation cycle and related pathways, which are not found in other multi's. The original protocol was beneficial for over two thirds of the patients who were in the clinical study. I'm hopeful that lowering the folic acid will make the protocol effective for more people. Those who are concerned about the remaining folic acid can take the active folate supplements at a different time than the multi so that they do not have to compete with the folic acid for absorption.

    Best regards,

  3. mbofov

    mbofov Active Member

    That is a great idea to take the multi at a different time than the other supplements in your protocol.

    In a few days I am going to be starting the Thorne Research B complex which has both 5-methytetrahydrolfolate and calcium folinate, and am curious to see how I do. Also, I just checked and Thorne now makes a multi with these forms of folate, no folic acid. Hopefully more companies will follow suit.

    I am still amazed by the serious potential problems caused by folic acid, which I always thought was such a safe, basic supplement! The researchers in the article I linked to above talked about how it would be unethical to do an experiemental study of people with high folic acid intake and B12 deficiency. However, one researcher observed "that the current fortification program provides the perfect opportunity for epidemiologic study of the unanswered questions, including those related to the interaction between folate and vitamin B-12." In other words, we're a giant lab experiment! Many are concerned about high levels of folate or folic acid brought about by the food fortification program exacerbating b12 deficiency. This seems to be a not-too-well thought out enrichment program much like fluoridation of water.

    Best wishes,

  4. Mikie

    Mikie Moderator

    Thank you for always getting permission to post others' material here. It certainly makes out jobs easier. We appreciate it.

    Love, Mikie
  5. Scapper

    Scapper New Member

    Mary......Thanks for the heads-up on the Thorne product!

    My question: Why does raising ones Folate level cause severe exhaustion, well for me anyway? (even with taking sufficient potassium)?

  6. mbofov

    mbofov Active Member

    Maybe you should do a separate post for Rich with your question, I don't know if he'll see this one.

    How much potassium are you taking anyway?
  7. Scapper

    Scapper New Member

    Hi Mary: I was hoping Rich would come back to this post, but I think you're right.

    I'm currently taking 800mg potassium citrate. I stopped the Metafolin, but I'm still in a severe state of exhaustion....can't pull my head off the pillow unitl late afternoon :(

    While on the folate, I needed 1,000-1,200 potassium.

    I'm almost ready to order supps and I'm going to get the Thorne B-complex or one of their multi's......a quality brand.


  8. mbofov

    mbofov Active Member

    I'm really to sorry to hear about your exhaustion. You are taking plenty of potassium so I don't have a clue as to what's going on. Hopefully Rich will respond to another post.

    The only other thing I can suggest is a chiropractor who does muscle testing. He or she can test all your supplements and see if they are good for you and in what dose, and may be able to find the source of your exhaustion (e.g., weak adrenals, thyroid, low B12 etc.) With one or 2 exceptions I've had very good experience with chiros who do this. One way to find one is to go to the Standard Process website (SP makes high quality supplements), and contact customer service, and they can give you the names of practitioners in your area who use their products, which are most often used by chiros who do muscle testing.

    Take care -

  9. Marlene35

    Marlene35 New Member

    Can you tell me the name of another B Complex that uses the l-Methylfolate or folinic acid instead of the folic acid, besides Thorne brand. I have Interstitia Cystitis and the Thorne brand uses citrate in their product. I cannot tolerate that.

    Thank you for your good information and for your help.

  10. mbofov

    mbofov Active Member

    Two other companies that make a B complex with metafolin (l-methylfolate) are Douglas Labs and Pure Encapsulations. I've used the Douglas Labs brand, got it from iherb.

    I think there may be another company out there doing it too, but would have to search for it.

  11. richvank

    richvank New Member

    Hi, scapper.

    I don't know, but I suspect that your body may be depleted in one of the cofactor nutrients that are needed by the methylation cycle and associated biochemical pathways.

    The two essential nutrients that are needed to lift the partial methylation cycle block at methionine synthase are folate and B12, in certain forms and dosages. However, quite a few other essential nutrients also play roles, and if they are not all present in sufficient amounts, they will block the improvement. They in include certain amino acids (especially methionine and serine, but also others), certain vitamins (especially vitamins B2, B3 and B6) and certain minerals (especially zinc and magnesium, but also copper, manganese and selenium, and for many PWCs, molybdenum). The Yasko multi that is in the protocol is an attempt to supply these cofactors, but the amounts needed may be greater than in the dosages suggested for the multi, and some people do not tolerate the multi because of sensitivity to one or more of its ingredients.

    You mentioned in another post that you were planning to build up your cofactor nutrients, and I think that's a good thing to try. It's possible to test for a range of essential nutrients with combined panels such as the NutrEval from Genova Diagnostics or the ION profile from Metametrix, both available from directlabs without a doctor's order. They cost money, of course, but they can be very helpful in trying to find the "weak link."

    I hope this is helpful.

  12. Scapper

    Scapper New Member

    Thank you, as always, for being so informative!

    Yes, I'm working on the co-factors and I feel like I'm shooting in the dark here. My body is never a good indicator of progress, since I'm always in a severe state of debilitation, any little change puts me "in bed."

    I don't see my G.P. until the end of the month. At that time, I'll give her your "paper" (hope she reads and jumps on board to help me!) and I'll also request one of the above panels. I'd like to see what I'm missing here. It makes no sense to me that, with all I've done nutritionally over the years (food, supps, detoxes, etc., etc., etc.) that I'm still THE SAME (it's maddening!!).

    I was wondering though if when one's folate levels rise, would this produce fatigue? In other words, if folate was in fact so low over such an extended period of time, could the simple raising of this cause exhaustion.......or does this not make any sense (haha)?

    Thanks Rich. I'm trying as best I can to hold onto this protocol but my body isn't cooperating!