Why the folic acid you’re taking may be doing more harm than good
Please share this with your friends and family, as I personally feel the word needs to get out. My heart breaks for anyone that has unknowingly suffered side-effects from this.
I will continue to add to this blog as I discover more research and information revealed.
Firstly, please remember that once we know better, we do better. The intention of this blog post is not to make you feel guilty in any way shape or form, we all carry enough guilt as it is! So, please don’t beat yourself up if you have taken folic acid for your pregnancy or in your standard multivitamin. We should be able to trust what goes into our food/supplement supply, though unfortunately we need to dig this information up ourselves.
In short, the folic acid hiding in your supplements, breads and cereals could be doing you more harm than good.
This blog is well overdue, but starting a business whilst being pregnant and now having a little bubba has held me back from sharing so much information I have been eager to share. Through my pregnancy I did a podcast about this with Please Ask Mikki that you can listen to here. I have discovered even more since then. Because my pregnancy was rather spontaneous, as any mother, I became protective over the health of my growing little one and also myself. I wasn’t prepared to fill my body with synthetic vitamins or minerals, despite the pressure of the wider community.
Most generic multivitamins, prenatal vitamins and the like do not come from nature. They are synthetically formed in a laboratory and the side effects of these are only revealed after years of trial (on you, us, your baby) which are happening as we speak without the population being aware. Whilst some are extremely beneficial, some are also harmful.
For the most part, I choose to get my nutrients from a food source, and in some cases when I am experiencing a personal deficiency I will supplement with the highest quality form of that nutrient, knowing that it still isn’t exactly what is found in nature as you will never find a nutrient in nature on its own. Not only does the body utilise nutrients better in their most natural state (eg in a food, herb etc) it also has an abundance of other nutrients surrounding it that allows it to do its job. I suggest to clients that when a single nutrient is needed, then to also consume the food source at the same time, so there is exposure to the required array of nutrients to support the nutrient that they are supplementing with. But let me make it clear; this doesn’t solve the problem if the nutrient itself could be harmful.
You NEED natural folate, but FOLIC ACID may be doing more harm than good
Natural folate is different to folic acid. Folic acid is the synthetic form, and folate (including folinic acid and 5-MTHF) is the form found in nature.
A deficiency in natural folate can lead to;
Midline birth defects in infants (think literally down the middle of your body) including; spina bifida, neural tube defects, tongue ties and other tongue abnormalities, cleft palate, cleft lip, along with other problems like premature birth and much more.
Neurological development problems
So then, WHY IS FOLIC ACID (not folate) DANGEROUS?
We are always discovering new information, so I say all of the below with caution as information may change as there are new findings. However, I will continue to update this blog if required. The current information I know and have seen in many people include the below:
Put simply, many individuals cannot convert folic acid into the natural folate due to genetically lacking an enzyme to turn the folic acid into its usable form. Therefore, much of it is left circulating in the blood and left unmetabolized. This has been shown to create almost the opposite effect of what you’re trying to achieve - somewhat a DEFICIENCY in folate, as the receptor sites for natural folate is preoccupied and therefore leaving the body actually deficient. We know the risks of folate deficiency, so essentially, folic acid is making many individuals effectively more deficient then previous to taking the folic acid.
This means that folic acid supplementation may cause; midline birth defects including tongue ties, cleft palate, cleft lips, spina bifida, other neurological development issues, miscarriages and more.
A comprehensive review notes that 3 studies have shown that high intake of folic acid supplementation has been linked to impaired neurological development (eg autism).
The review also notes that; ‘Generally speaking, the results of recent research on supplementation with Folic Acid suggest supplementation may have unintended negative consequences, and that selective excess intake of one vitamin type may have the potential to negatively alter metabolic activities. The tolerable safe upper limit of FA has been suggested to be 1000 mcg (μg) per day. Prenatal vitamins typically contain 1000 mcg. To put this in perspective, a bowl of breakfast cereal alone may have 400 mcg of supplemented folic acid.’ It may be that we also simply having too much, even for those that may be able to convert this folic acid into usable folate.
The synthetic folic acid when taken as a supplement can also can mask symptoms of B12 deficiency.
The bottom line...
Check your supplements! I urge you to get your folate from FOOD, or if you feel you aren’t getting enough, then the type of folate that occurs naturally in food includes folinic acid and 5-MTHF, which if you find these in a supplement form it will be utilised far better in the body than folic acid. Folic acid is far cheaper, but if you aren’t willing to get your genes tested than I suggest not taking folic acid at all or taking the active forms like folinic acid or 5-MTHF.
Foods high in folate:
Legumes (preferably soaked and/or fermented)
Like I said, I will continue to add to this blog as I discover more. I couldn’t hold back any longer and just needed this information out there as soon as I could!
With so much love,
Qualified Holistic Nutritionist