Folate, or vitamin B9, is an incredibly important, and versatile micronutrient that plays a vital role in our physical and emotional well-being. BUT did you know the best form of folate is methyl folate, not folic acid?
Have you checked which form of folate is in your dietary supplements? The form of folate matters! Let me explain more.
Methyl Folate vs Folic Acid
Firstly, let’s take a closer look at the difference between folate and folic acid.
Sure, the terms folate, and folic acid are used interchangeably but they are NOT the same. They are in fact very different as folate is available in both natural, and synthetic forms.
Folic acid is the name given to the synthetic version of folate. Folic acid is not biologically active until it’s been converted to the methyl form. In effect, this is the active, natural form the body can use.
The Best Form of Folate in Nutritional Supplements
Folate supplements have evolved…and methyl folate is the best folate to take as it’s the most effective at increasing circulating folate levels.
The good news is more and more health companies are opting to use the superior form in nutritional supplements.
Here’s what you need to know to help you choose the right folate supplement.
The ingredient list on the side of the supplement label should clearly state what form of folate is used, plus the amount per serving. Ideally, you will see that the supplement supplies methyl folate, not folic acid.
What does Metafolin® and Quatrefolic® mean?
You may see methyl folate listed as Metafolin® or Quatrefolic®. These are trade names for specially developed methyl folate ingredients that are backed by scientific research.
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Folate Directly Impacts MTHFR Gene Expression
If diagnosed with the MTHFR gene defect it’s very important to AVOID synthetic folic acid. Folic acid is commonly found in nutritional supplements, and fortified foods such as boxed breakfast cereals.
The reason is straighforward. Mutations of the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) gene can inhibit an individual’s ability to effectively utilize folic acid. The best folate is therefore methyl folate, the active form that will bypass the MTHFR block.
Not only that, if those with the MTHFR variant are unable to process folic acid effectively the un-metabolized folic acid easily builds up in the body. This may lead to un-metabolized folic acid (UMFA) syndrome. Studies suggest UMFA is linked to adverse health outcomes including immune dysfunction, raised homocysteine, and cognitive decline.
Like to learn more?
This post looks at the MTHFR gene and WHY it matters to thyroid health: The MTHFR Gene and Why It Matters To Thyroid Health
Folate directly impacts gene expression and is therefore essential to support overall health. Supplementation with methyl folate is popular due to growing awareness that this active form of folate offers significant advantages over synthetic folic acid.
Scaglione F, Panzavolta G. Folate, folic acid and 5-methyltetrahydrofolate are not the same thing. Xenobiotica. 2014;44(5):480–488.
Servy EJ, Jacquesson-Fournols L, Cohen M, Menezo YJR. MTHFR isoform carriers. 5-MTHF (5-methyl tetrahydrofolate) vs folic acid: a key to pregnancy outcome: a case series. J Assist Reprod Genet. 2018;35(8):1431–1435.
Wang B, Shao X, Song R, Xu D, Zhang J. The Emerging Role of Epigenetics in Autoimmune Thyroid Diseases. Frontiers in Immunology. 2017;8:396.
Please note: This information should not be used as a substitute for treatment, or advice from your qualified healthcare practitioner. Consult your qualified healthcare practitioner before beginning any new nutritional product, diet, exercise, or health program as they are best suited to make recommendations to support your overall health. This is especially important if you have a diagnosed medical condition, are taking prescription medication, or you have a diagnosed MTHFR genetic issue. Some natural health supplements are not recommended during pregnancy, or breast feeding due to a lack of scientific investigations.