What is Folate? Also known as Folic Acid this is perhaps the most important of all the nutrients. It is also known as Vitamin B9. When you read about Folate, think: turning off bad genes and detoxify your body.
So, you have the results of your MTHFR (a gene that processes Folate or Folic Acid) test in your hands, and you would like to know how much Methylfolate (the usable form of Folate or Folic Acid) to take. I wish there was a simple answer to this question, but the reality is that the answer is complex and based upon a number of factors that I will cover here. There are also a number of factors that need to be individually accounted for by your doctor based upon your unique genetic make-up and health.
One simple answer is that the more MTHFR mutations you have, the more Methylfolate your body will require. With that said, it is always a good idea to find out how much Folate is already in your body.
It is important to check your Folate levels every time you run a blood chemistry report, the same way that you check your Vitamin D or cholesterol levels. Folate is the most important nutrient your body needs for proper Methylation. You require Folate to detoxify your body from everything that you are exposed to in your daily lives. Methylation controls intra-cellular detoxification.
You need Folate to regulate gene expression because Methylation is the process that can turn genes on and off. No matter how healthy you are, and how nutritious your diet is, I guarantee that in your family there is at least one of the four most common genetic diseases (heart disease, cancer, diabetes or mental illness). With a few exceptions, most diseases including most cancers are controlled by multiple genes, and its expression can be controlled by methylation.
For example: If you have a double mutation on the MTHFR gene and you do not address it then you may be at risk for not having enough Folate to fuel the methylation engine. This can place you at a higher risk for having these disease genes to get expressed.
So let’s say you ask your doctor to order Folate levels. The results come back and your doctor looks at you and says, “Your levels are normal. Despite this MTHFR mutation you have, your body is doing just fine and you don’t need to spend your money on any supplement.” If your doctor is not familiar with genetics and MTHFR he/she will likely misread the results. Despite your lab results showing “normal”, when accounting for an MTHFR mutation your lab results might in reality be below “normal”.
Always consider these two things:
Most laboratories test serum Folate, which is highly affected by diet. Just like when you fast before measuring cholesterol levels, always make sure to fast before measuring Folate levels or the results may not be accurate.
When laboratories test for Folate they are measuring all types of Folate, including Folic Acid and any crude form that still needs to be processed (metabolized). Depending on the MTHFR mutation, you may have reduced ability to metabolize Folates. See chart (updated on 6/21/2017):
MTHFR A1298C – 1 mutation (may lose up to 20% of Folate)
MTHFR A1298C – 2 mutations (may lose up to 40% of Folate)
MTHFR C677T – 1 mutation (may lose up to 40% of Folate)
MTHFR C677T – 2 mutations (may lose up to 70% of Folate)
1 mutation of C677T and 1 mutation of A1298C (may lose up to 60% of Folate)
The following percentages are only hypothetical as I have not seen any research on them yet:
1 mutation of C677T and 2 mutations of A1298C (may lose up to 80% of Folate)
2 mutations of C677T and 1 mutation of A1298C (may lose up to 90% of Folate)
2 mutations of C677T and 2 mutations of A1298C (may lose up to 100% of Folate)
I have yet to see someone with four mutations. I have spoken with different researchers and lab directors who agree with my theory that four mutations may not be compatible with life. If you have three or four mutations (between these two alleles; C677T and A1298C) do not panic, but bring this to your doctor’s attention immediately; and please send me an email as I am currently doing a study on the subject.
Now that you have this data, let’s take a look at what the labs are likely going to show. Although I have not yet found a consensus of what a “functional level” or an “optimal level” should be, I believe that it should be higher than laboratory “normal” levels.
So, how do you calculate Folate levels? For example: Your lab results may show the levels 12 and laboratory normal levels if higher than 5. Your doctor may say that 12 is way above the normal. However, if you have two mutations on MTHFR C677T then you may lose up to 70% of Folate. Your actual levels of usable Folates may be only 30% of what shows in your lab results. In this case that would be 3.6 which are below lab normal. To be on the safe side, always calculate your Folate levels based on your MTHFR mutation. This is one of the reasons why everyone, without exception, should get tested for MTHFR mutations. Otherwise, you will never know if your body has enough levels of Folate to support methylation.
Considering that functional levels or optimal levels are higher than lab ranges, you need to discuss with your doctor what the ideal levels for you should be. My opinion based in part on World Health Organization recommendations is 14 to 59ng/ml.
You may have noticed that I have left out dosage recommendations for Methylfolate based on each mutation. I have purposely left this out because there are several factors, including other gene mutations that can affect the individual’s ability to process Methylfolate. I have to leave the dosage to be determined by your doctor based on your uniqueness. A non-individualized approach is a major biological stressor.
Oder a home test kit for MTHFR mutation.
On a side note, in addition to Folate levels, I always request Vitamin B12, Vitamin D and Homocysteine to be measured.
Feel free to list your lab levels, your MTHFR mutations and what you think is the correct interpretation in the comment section below. I will be happy to guide you.
*For those seeking a more comprehensive analysis and coaching, Ricardo provides long distance consultations. You may contact his clinic directly at 310 914-1624.