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Folic Acid - 5 Things You Need to Know

Folic Acid is one of the most commonly fortified nutrients in the United States. It is the synthetic version of Folate (Vitamin B9) - an essential nutrient needed to form DNA and RNA, for proper red blood cell formation, for healthy cell growth and function, for proper protein synthesis, along with fetal brain and spinal cord development in early pregnancy. While this fortification was successful in improving fetal development, there were some unintended consequences. Here are five things you need to know about how Folid Acid can affect your health and what you can do about it.

Foods fortified with Folic Acid can have negative health effects

1. Folic Acid Fortification

Starting in 1998, all grain products in the United States have been required to be fortified with Folic Acid (Vitamin B9) with the intent of reducing neural tube defects in infants due to Folate deficiency during pregnancy. You will notice that in the ingredients list of any grain product, the flour or grain listed will have the word "Enriched" or "Fortified" in front of it. This indicates that Folic Acid has been added to the product during the manufacturing process. The products included in this mandate are those containing flour like bread, cereals, pasta and snack foods. Organic grain products, however, are not required to be fortified. If they chose to fortify their product, Folic Acid is required to be listed in the ingredients.

2. Genetic Variables

In order to properly utilize Folic Acid, your body needs to methylate it and break it down in several steps - unlike Folate found in whole foods which is already bioavailable for use by the body. Methylation of Folic Acid is much more complicated than Folate - making it more of a threat to those with the MTHFR gene mutation. Methylation is a process by which nutrients are broken down into the raw materials needed for respective functions. If there is an issue with methylation, your body doesn't receive the raw materials it needs - regardless of the nutrients being consumed via food or supplementation. This causes countless deficiencies and dysfunctions to develop. These deficiencies and dysfunctions affect cognition, mood, sleep, blood pressure, hormone function and gut health. Unfortunately, an estimated 44% of Americans have a mutation of their MTHFR gene. MTHFR stand for methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase - an enzyme that methylates Folic Acid. Therefore, this mutation can wreak havoc on your body- appearing to be several common health conditions and is not often considered by mainstream medical providers.

3. Effects on Brain Health

If you have the MTHFR gene mutation, it may be affecting your brain health. Folate plays a key role in the formation of neurotransmitters, reducing inflammation and homocysteine, and improving epigenetic function. These all improve cognition, mood, sleep and reduce degenerative markers for Alzheimer's and dementia. Additionally, since neurotransmitters regulate mood, Folate is a crucial nutrient related to reducing depression, mental fatigue and irritability. Because someone with an MTHFR gene mutation can't properly methylate Folic Acid, their brain is not getting the raw materials it needs along with developing Folic Acid buildup. A Folic Acid buildup due to unmethylated Folic Acid leads to cognitive decline and raised homocysteine levels causing high blood pressure. Therefore, they should instead supplement with Methyl-Folate - a form of folate that is already pre-methylated for optimal absorption. Natural forms of folate from food are also already bioavailable. Focusing on high-quality whole foods diet is the best way to ensure all nutrient requirements are being met - especially Folate. Choosing organic grain products will also weed out most fortification. Another option to improve methylation is to undergo Quantum Bioenergetic wellness sessions. These sessions help to improve epigenetic function along the cellular pathways to help your MTHFR gene signal methylation better - making navigating the complicated food market a little easier.

4. Effects on Blood Pressure

Both Folate deficiency and Folic Acid build up cause increased homocysteine levels. In turn, elevated homocysteine levels cause high blood pressure and damage the lining of the arteries. It is an often-overlooked reason for idiopathic hypertension. If you have an MTHFR gene mutation, avoiding foods containing Folic Acid fortification, eating Folate-rich foods and/or supplementing with Methyl-Folate can all drastically reduce blood pressure when homocysteine levels are the culprit. Homocysteine levels can be measured through a blood test and should be if high blood pressure is being considered.

5. What You Can Do

Determining if you have an MTHFR gene mutation would be a good step in managing exposure to Folic Acid fortification. In order to determine this, you can get a genetic test through mail-in services like 23 & Me and Ancestry. If it is determined that you do have an MTHFR gene mutation, you can then implement lifestyle changes and/or supplementation as discussed above. Many lifestyle and diet changes will also improve epigenetic function over time. Another option is to undergo Bioenergetic Wellness sessions with a practitioner or at home. This method utilizes a biocommunication software that can detect an issue with the MTHFR gene and in return, improve epigenetic function on the cellular level - essentially remapping this pathway. MTHFR gene mutations are very responsive to these sessions and can take as little as one - two sessions to be optimized for better methylation. Once your MTHFR gene is functioning better, foods fortified with Folic Acid pose less of a risk to your health.

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