The other night we finished a delicious meal of pasta Bolognese and my husband asked what was in the gluten-free pasta. I grabbed the box and, as I scanned it, my face fell. The pasta was fortified with a vitamin and mineral mix, including Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin and Folic Acid! If you have MTHFR, consuming Folic Acid is a big no, no. Our bodies can’t process it and the excess ends up being stored as toxins in our organs and tissue. I was so busy looking for a gluten-free product that I didn’t think to check the box for folic acid fortification. This usually wasn’t a problem at the organic supermarkets where I shop.

enriched gluten free pasta

Note that this manufacturer does make non-fortified varieties of gluten-free pasta.

Although the names are often used interchangeably, there is a big difference between naturally occurring folate and folic acid. The linked article explains this really well but basically folic acid is an inactive form, added to food because it is more stable. The human body has to convert that substance into a form of folate that the body can use. But if you have MTHFR defects, your body can’t convert this folic acid and it builds up in your system.  One of the things that likely got me into trouble was my consumption of more than 800 mcg folic acid for over a year when we were trying to conceive. I believe I now have circulating unmetabolized folic acid in my system, which I still haven’t figured out how to get rid of.

Since 1998, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been requiring food manufacturers to add folic acid to grain products like cereal, bread, flour, pasta and rice. This practice also goes on in countries like Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, Chile, New Zealand and South Africa.

Professional Supplement Center

This is an issue whether you have MTHFR gene mutations or not. Even the Harvard School of Health recommends against the consumption of fortified foods. When I started reading about this issue I was shocked. Granted this knowledge is coming at the same time as my discovery that I have the MTHFR genetic defect, but I think even those who are not affected by MTHFR in their bodies will have the same reaction to the research. The primary reason for forced folic acid ingestion was to lower the incidence of neural tube defects in newborn babies. In the United States, this has resulted in a 30% reduction. But what about those of us who have MTHFR and are trying to conceive? Even one of the most popular pregnancy and conception book series out there didn’t warn me that I might be one of the many women for whom folic acid is completely useless. So here we are taking loads of the stuff, increasing our own toxicity, and we can still end up with birth defects or miscarriages. That’s what they don’t tell you.

white flour

Meanwhile, people who aren’t even pregnant or trying to conceive are receiving a heavy dose of this unnatural folic acid. If 30-40% of the population as estimated does have MTHFR gene defects, then could those people be poisoned by this program? As mentioned in this research article that examines the fortification issue from both sides, potentially yes. The effects have not been studied adequately enough. The article mentions that the addition of folate to established tumors has previously been shown to cause an “acceleration phenomenon” in humans.  But the FDA still defends itself while others have posited this same question.

Unmetabolized folic acid can cause health problems for all people that don’t show up for many years.  It can decrease natural killer cell cytotoxicity and impair the body from responding to arthritis, cancer and anti-malarial drugs. In the elderly, who often have B12 deficiencies, folic acid can cause cognitive impairment and anemia. And while folic acid can have a protective effect against certain cancers, it can accelerate the growth of tumors already present. For me, it’s simply too risky to ingest this substance.  Alternatively, I encourage women to find out their MTHFR status and take the appropriate form of folate for them. If you’re having sex and know that pregnancy might be a risk, do this as a precaution. The information about folic acid while trying to conceive is out there. Until studies can prove that folic acid is safe for everyone else, I don’t believe that other people should be dosed with a substance that could harm them. And especially not at the levels unwitting consumers are being exposed to.

Fortunately you don’t have to be a reluctant victim of this fortification. Let this be a reminder to always check your packaging. If you are buying rice, pasta, oatmeal, cornmeal, products made with flour (crackers, biscuits, cookies, baking mixes, etc.), or even soy milk, ALWAYS check the label. If you see the words “enriched” or “fortified,” the product probably contains folic acid. And don’t forget about dietary supplements. Many multi-vitamins and prenatal vitamins contain the inactive form. Other vitamin or mineral blends may sneak it in there as a supplementary ingredient. While you’re at it, keep an eye out for cyanocobalamin (the inactive form of B12) and B6. If you have MTHFR you want the active forms of these vitamins, which means specific types of methylfolate instead of Folic Acid (see the linked article before purchasing active B9 supplements), methylcobalamin and pyridoxal-5-phosphate (P5P), which is active B6.

In my next post I’ll talk about where you can get the nutrients a MTHFR body needs from natural foods. Supplements are fine if you need them, but it’s always better to get your vitamins and minerals naturally from food. Unfortunately, many of us have issues with poor absorption because of leaky gut and other issues, so this is not always possible. But you should be armed with the knowledge of what foods are best for you to eat and what supplements you should and should not ingest.

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If you have a comment that is related to your own health or have questions that require an answer, please leave these in the community discussion forums and not in the comments below. Thanks! =)

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87 thoughts on “Have MTHFR? How To Avoid Folic Acid In Food

  1. David

    I have no interest in defending the use of folic acid, but some of your statements regarding it are inaccurate (the person above made a similar observation). It’s your specific assertions that people with MTHRF polymorphisms have a complete inability to use folic acid (i.e., “Our bodies can’t process it”, “ your body can’t convert this folic acid and it builds up in your system.” and “I might be one of the many women for whom folic acid is completely useless.”) that I am talking about. This is not correct. As the person above noted, people with these polymorphisms simply have reduced enzyme activity, not a complete lack of it (which would be necessary for folic acid to be “completely useless”. Furthermore, there is a lot of individual variability on this issue. The original study that gets cited for these statistics (Frosst et al., 1995) studied the 677 polymorphism, and had three groups of people (those without the polymorphism, those heterozygous, and those homozygous). On average the heterozygous groups had 65% the enzyme activity of the “normal” groups and the homozygous group had on average 31%. However, there was a lot of individual variability. Some in the normal group had enzyme activity lower than the heterozygous group and close to that of the homozygous group. And, course, for no one was the activity zero (as would be the case if you were completely unable to use folic acid). Another point to keep in mind is that we are talking about a water soluble vitamin, so most of the excess is excreted in urine.

    Reply

    1. Deanna

      David, so are you saying that this active form they gave me for MTHFR isn’t necessary? I’m starting to wonder myself because after my doctor told me I needed to take it everyday, she is now saying they haven’t seen a big difference in people using it so I can probably stop taking it. I’m so confused by all this stuffy doctor is telling me. I don’t know if I should keep taking the l-methylfolate and avoid it in foods or if it really doesn’t matter. I’ve gone my whole life not even knowing until now that I had the mutation.

      Reply

      1. David

        Hi Deanna. Yes, things can seem confusing, and my point was just that the facts need to be accurate so that people don’t get more confused. Although it’s not correct that people with MTHFR polymorphisms can’t process folic acid (on average, they process it less efficiently), it’s still probably true that the active forms (typically methylfolate or folinic acid) are better for you. Active forms also occur in food though. By that, I don’t mean enriched food (that has folic acid) but food such as green vegetables, legumes, and liver). If people eat enough of those, they probably don’t need supplements (and certainly not daily – even the alleged MTHFR experts say they don’t take them daily). However, if I was going to take a supplement, I’d stay away from folic acid and stick to the ones with the active forms of folate. I hope that helps.

        Reply

    2. Michael B

      Hi David, I altered the importance of staying clear of folic acid / pteroyl-l-glutamate because of what i’ve seen from the studies. It might as well be the plague.

      2014: Contemporary issues surrounding folic Acid fortification initiatives.
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25580388

      2014: Folic acid supplementation promotes mammary tumor progression in a rat model.
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24465421

      Basically anything you search for on PubMed about it… there’s quite a lot.

      Reply

      1. David

        Hi Michael. I started my original post by saying “I have no interest in defending the use of folic acid”, and I don’t. My point was that the described facts regarding the relationship between MTHFR polymorphisms and folic acid were incorrect (it was described as a complete inability to metabolize folic acid when in reality it is a partial reduction in the ability to convert folic acid all the way into methylfolate). Furthermore, the initial conversion of folic acid into dihydrofolate doesn’t even involve MTHFR; it is a different enzyme. Thus, the presence of unmetabolized folic acid on one’s body would actually be unrelated to MTHFR. This doesn’t mean that it is a good thing, but rather that the risks may apply to people whether or not they have MTHFR polymorphims.

        Reply

  2. Heather

    Hi, I was wondering what brands of flour and baking mixes are safe to use when making breads and pancakes?

    Reply

    1. Andrea Post author

      Hi Heather – you might want to look at gluten free ones – check the label for fortification. If it says folic acid, thiamine, etc. then it means those have the synthetic vitamins. Try natural food stores…usually have untreated varieties. Always read your labels. I don’t have a list of specific brands – and also please note that ingredients change all the time. Some of my favorites are now no longer an option.

      Reply

  3. Laura Barker

    I recently had the Boston heart diagnostic done and it shows I have one copy of the gene. What does that mean? Does a person with one copy have half the problems and should or do I take the same procautions? I really don’t know anything about this yet.

    Reply

    1. Andrea Post author

      Often people with only one mutation still need to take the same precautions…just depends on you and your health, environment, other SNPs, etc.

      Reply

  4. Dana

    Just found out I have MTHFR homozygous, and I am trying to conceive. I’ve gotten the Seeking Health prenatal vitamins with the methelated B; however, I’m concerned about the huge amount of vitamin E in the vitamin. I would like to alternate these prenatals with an organic B complex vitamin. If it says “folate” on the label (and it’s organic) it is naturally derived, so I should be able to absorb it, correct???? Thank you for your help!

    Reply

    1. Andrea Post author

      My understanding is that you need L-5MTHF (methylfolate) specifically for it to be absorbed completely if you have the MTHFR mutations…

      Reply

    2. Michael

      Dana, folic acid cannot be organic because it does not exist in nature. Only folinic acid exists – which is in all green foods. The term folate is a blanket term covering anything with ‘fol’ at the start and can mean anything. You should just eat a lot of spinach or some other foods with the right amino acids. Spinach has folinic acid, b6, zinc… Quinoa has vit E. Theres published medical docs which say autism increases very substantially (an immune/methylation issue) when the mother has flu issues/immune problem, or folic acid in the first trimester, or vaccine in the first trimester. Just feel your best. Dont listen to ad campaigns telling you to take folic acid or vaccine. Most sure-fire way to have a miscarriage or autistic child.

      Reply

      1. Debbie

        Mike, you seem to really have an understanding of this whole thing! I am trying desperately to figure out what to feed my daughter after discovering these mutations and others. Would appreciate your advice as she seems to crave sugar! Organic bread ok? Suppose to limit sulfer. Always eating broccoli, cabbage etc. Who knew? Thanks!

        Reply

        1. Michael

          Hi Debbie, if you can find some bread that doesn’t have folic acid in it, as mandated by law to have it in in some countries, then the only other thing is gluten digestion. Cysteine is what breaks down gluten. To help keep it anti-oxidised and to reduce sulfites, which is what it is when its oxidised, you need Selenium. Selenium also helps the thyroid, immune system, gut, and social aspiration and thinking. It works with cysteine – to make glurathione, selenium for thyroid t4/t3 hormone, CSP cys string protein in the brain, and the thioredoxin immune system cycles. Brazil nuts have the most by about 100x. About 5 / day. Eggs and potassium also. Potass/sodium helps aldosterone acid/alkaline bal. Eggs for molybdenum. Sugar, esp fructose is the main reducer for glutamate/msg/aspartate(artifical sugars). Refined sugar is bad. Fruit sugar..lemons oranges hugs… Good.

          Reply

          1. Michael

            Raisins have fructose, b6, zinc all in one. B6 helps to produce cysteine, reduce peripheral neuropathy (sensitive skin), also helps stop methionine, which is intended for the adrenals, from turning into homocysteic acid which is glutamate – nmda agonist. B6 deficiencies are linked to paranoia and schiz. Similar with b12. Lithium helps B vitamin absorption.

      2. David

        Hi Michael. Your statement that folinic acid is the only form of folate that occurs in nature, and is in all green foods is inconsistent with the nutrition literature. At least according to that literature, there are in fact numerous forms of natural folate. As noted by Finglas and Wright (2002). “Unlike folic acid, naturally occurring folates in foods and body tissues are mainly 5,6,7,8-tetrahydro-pteroylpolyglutamates…” (p. 189) and “The two most abundant natural folate classes are the 5-methyltetrahydrofolates (5-methyl THF), which is widely distributed in all foods, and the 5- or 10-formyltetrahydrofolates (5- or 10-formyl THF), which tends to be found in foods of animal origin.” (p. 191). The key is that they are referring to natural folates (plural). Also, the chemical name for folinic acid is 5-formyl tetrahydrofolate so also according to that source, it is found primarily in foods of animal origin (as opposed to being “in all green foods”). It would be other forms of natural folates in greens. In the big picture, though, these are all different from folic acid and are all better for us.
        Finglas, P. M., & Wright, A. J. A. (2002). Folate bioavailability and health. Phytochemistry Reviews, 1, 189–198.

        Reply

        1. Michael B

          Hi David, the names are used as blanket terms. My understanding is that Folinic acid would be anything that is pre-methylation (THF) and naturally found in nature. Including other peoples/animals tissue. Post-methylation “5-methyltetrahydrofolates” (MTHF) are what they ‘evolve’ into, but not really “folate” any more. Folic Acid is “Pteroyl-l-glutamate”, this does not break down as well as the others, besides also leaving you with more glutamate/msg in your system,… and there is such a thing as UMFA – Unmetabolised Folic Acid, and this leads to cancer and tumour growth – this has been mandated in all wheat products in some countries… and we wonder why cancer (and suicide) are basically the number 1 and 2 killers.

          In 2007: Folic acid metabolism in human subjects revisited: potential implications for proposed mandatory folic acid fortification in the UK.
          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17617936

          Reply

          1. David

            Hi Michael. The only blanket term is folate, which applies to both folic acid and naturally occurring folates (see https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Folate-HealthProfessional/). Folinic acid is one specific form of folate, but again is not the only form found in food. As noted in my original post, MTHF is still a folate and is abundant in food (i.e., “The two most abundant natural folate classes are the 5-methyltetrahydrofolates (5-methyl THF), which is widely distributed in all foods”, Finglas & Wright, 2002).

          2. Michael B

            Hi David, the quote you used is not on the site. “5-methyltetrahydrofolates (5-methyl THF)” is something folate breaks down into in the bloodstream/plasma. They don’t stick this into food that i know of, they use Pteroyl-l-glutamate and they cover up the name (ie: as folate/folic acid) so that it sounds less like MSG, but it really is similar. This has the problem breaking down through DHFR, and this is linked to UMFA (unmetabolised folic acid), cancer, tumour growth, autism. It is probably linked to some gene change involving MTHFR but that requires some further research.

          3. David

            Michael, I’m not sure why you don’t see it, but my quote was from the 4th sentence of my above post dated (August 1, 2015 at 11:22 PM), and I never said 5-methyltetrahydrofolates were added to food; I said that they occur naturally in food. That is the whole point, in response to your initial [inaccurate] statement that only folinic acid occurs in food. I’ll repeat it again, to be clear. As noted by Finglas and Wright (2002), “The two most abundant natural folate classes are the 5-methyltetrahydrofolates (5-methyl THF), which is widely distributed in all foods, and the 5- or 10-formyltetrahydrofolates (5- or 10-formyl THF), which tends to be found in foods of animal origin.” (p. 191). That methylfolate occurs naturally in food is also in one of the articles that you cited above (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25580388). Notice in their Figure 1 that they refer to “natural dietary methylfolate”.

  5. Deanna

    I recently found out I have MTHFR and I’m on an active form of folic acid now(methylfolate). What is the active B12 and other b vitamins I should be looking for? I realized that what I have at home is the inactive B complex.

    Reply

  6. Ellen

    Is is safe to assume organic foods do not contain folic acid, since it is a synthetic? Is it safe to eat organic cereals, pastas, etc. if you only want methylfolate and not folic acid?

    Reply

    1. Andrea Post author

      In theory, yes…I always check the label, however. They are supposed to tell you. Be wary of any “enriched” flour.

      Reply

  7. Brookie

    I am so excited to come across your blog! My husband has MTHFR and we avoid folic acid, but you have some new insights I am excited to learn more.

    Reply

  8. Melissa

    I noticed that you are heterozygous for mthfr; so apparently even heterozygous mthfr can cause the problems you have described?

    Reply

  9. Cayce

    Do you have celiac disease? I’m just curious why you would avoid gluten unless you have celiac disease. Also, I’m curious why one with mthfr would still be advised to eat folate. Folic acid gets converted to folate in the folate cycle, so shouldn’t I avoid natural folate as well, since neither can be broken down efficiently?

    Reply

    1. Andrea Post author

      As regular flour is fortified (usually), going gluten free can help you avoid a lot of folic acid in breads and processed food. Many people also report an improvement to health after going gluten free, but this is usually related to allergies aggravated by leaky gut, etc. The latter are usually related problems for people with MTHFR. Dr. Ben Lynch has also advised going gluten-free. I hear you on the elimination of folate as well; I have heard others say that the folate can’t be broken down. I need to get more info on that myself – at this stage I haven’t given up folate foods because many healthy foods have folate in them.

      Reply

      1. Michael B

        Gluten can be broken down by N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC acid) in foods, and by Selenium foods. Selenium foods work through Thioredoxin Reductase to convert sulfites and “cystine” back into Cysteine/NAC. This helps produce Glutathione which prevents leaky gut.

        Folic Acid is Pteroyl-l-glutamate. This is chemically similar to MSG, and is proven in a number of studies to be cancer causing (UMFA – unmetabolised folic acid), but not initally in mice as their make up is slightly different. In progressed cancers in mice, it also promotes the cancer. — “Folinic Acid” is the natural folate found in all green foods. This really helps, and absorption is much better.

        Reply

        1. Jenna

          Michael,
          Impressive… how / where did you learn all of that!? I am trying to find out how to detox folic acid and heavy metals from the body.

          Reply

          1. Michael

            The information is out there. Theres lots of published medical documents on the effects. Its a sham that almost no one else knows and doctors arent taught it. Sugar is the primary reducer of glutamate/msg/folic acid. The best is from fruit or just better love & trust (sugar from your family). Glutamate raises insulin which then absorbs all the remaining sugar in order to lower glutamate so the best thing to do is to make sure you dont have any glutamate, inc glutamate similar chemicals like homocysteic acid from poor b vitamin absorption which lithium helps …and… SSC from poor molybdenum/copper balance. Lova and trust uses the Antiporter X pathway to directly reduce glutamate with sulfites/cystine to Cysteine which can then be used by the heart with taurine.

  10. Peri

    Hi Ladies! Just wanted to share some info- I finally came across a great prenatal vitamin with Folic Acid source as Methyltetrahydrofolate- known as the best source absorbed for people with MTHFR. It’s called PRENATAL +DHA by the company Zahler.
    I’m hoping you will feel as good as I do while on this great supplement! Loads of Luck to all of you- and thanks Andrea for all this truly amazing help, advice, and ideas on this topic.

    Reply

  11. Tanya Gumkowski

    I am wondering if consuming Montmorillonite or Bentonite clay would help bind the folic acid and get it out of your body. I know that consuming 1 tsp. per day in your water will bind toxins and heavy metals that we consume in our food (along with many carcinogens). It might work on folic acid. It depends on the ion charge of folic acid. I literally just found out today that I have this condition along with Reactive Hypoglycemia, and I have Hashimoto’s Disease with very low thyroid. I am very scared as my mother has already had problems with clots and they think I may have had a mimic stroke in December (pain in right arm and tingling/numbness in lips). Thanks for all the wonderful information. Look into the clay thing. I brush my teeth with it (mixed with activated charcoal and essential oils) and take it internally every day.

    Reply

    1. Andrea Post author

      Thanks for sharing, Tanya – I actually was just reading about Bentonite clay for something else and am curious about it. Have not thought about it binding folic acid but it’s worth a shot!

      Reply

      1. Tanya Gumkowski

        I am really concerned that my endocrinologist is not up to date on everything. She is prescribing me to take folic acid and by all accounts that I am reading I should not be taking it. How will I know if it is the right thing or not? I read something today that said something about mythelinized? I am probably spelling it wrong. I literally found out yesterday that I have this gene mutation. My mother does as well. All of my sisters got tested and I was the “lucky” one who inherited it.

        Reply

    2. Michael B

      Folic acid is Pteroyl-l-glutamate. The primary method for reducing Glutamate is sugar, hence why you have hypoglycemia. – You’ve ran out.

      I’m not sure exactly how but Pyrroles also cause a B6 block, stopping methylation (its pathway) from turning Homocysteine (with B6) into Cysteine. With the B6 block you have lots of Cystine/Sulfite (oxidised Cysteine) and you use up Selenium -which is also the primary chemical for the thyroid- to anti oxidise the Cystine/Sulfites. So the answer to a hypothyroid is Selenium (Brazil Nuts), plus some B6.

      Reply

      1. Tanya Gumkowski

        But apparently my thyroid is out because of Hashimoto’s Disease. It is supposedly going completely out and I will eventually have to have it removed. Do you think it is still possible to “feed” it into functioning? Is there a particular B-6 I should look for or foods that I can get it in? I’m trying to do as much as possible through diet, but I can’t eat Brazil Nuts on a daily basis and hope to lose the 75 lbs. I need to lose.

        Reply

        1. Michael B

          T4 Hormone is the thyroid’s “Storage” chemical, T3 Hormone is the thyroid’s “Active” chemical. Selenium is the main thing required to convert the T4 to T3. Hashimotos is just a type of autoimmune disorder. THe disorder wont improve without Selenium anyway, whether you have your thyroid or not. You can’t lose by trying it. Brazil Nuts have the most Selenium in them by about 100x. You only need 5 or so / day.

          I just eat rice for B6. Eggs have B2, Molybdenum, Cysteine which is great. Citrus fruits for Vit C, and fruit sugar. Potassium & Sodium also helps (potato chips, or spinach). Sugar is the main thing to reduce glutamate. Try it for a month, some effects you should notice within seconds after eating. If you feel sleepy but not fatigued then thats some positive short term symptoms.

          Vegetarian diets are almost always fat-free.

          Reply

          1. Tanya Gumkowski

            I will get some Selenium this weekend then. It can only make it better. I was following a mostly vegan diet before I found out about the reactive hypoglycemia. My doctor told me I needed more protein at each meal so I started eating meat again. I have not felt as good as I did when following a vegan diet, but I am certain that most of the protein sources are “fortified” with the very things I am not supposed to have. My doctor also put me on a weight loss drug called Contrave because nothing else has helped me lose weight. I am not really seeing amazing results with it, but I am going to give it a few more months before I give up on it. I have learned so much in the past week that my brain hurts.

  12. Pingback: Foods High In Folic Acid And Vitamin B6 | All Documents

  13. lisa todd

    Hi, I currently have Chronic Lyme, Hashimotos, MCS, MTHFR, CFS, Fibromyalgia, etc. I am trying to figure out what types of B vitamin I should be taking to help me. I know that Folic Acid is bad and that I need Folate instead. However, I am still very confused on what I should be taking. I had a very knowledgable health coach tell me that she thought that I should be taking the following to help with my MCS/MTHFR/Methylation issues –
    1) Methyl-5-folate
    2) Hyrdroxocobalamine – (she said this type of b12 that is broken down the most and best for MTHFR
    3) Molybedenum – (she said that most people with mthfr have issues breaking down sulfur as well). Are these healthy for MTHFR or should I be considering other forms of Vitamin B? I saw above that you wrote “If you have MTHFR you want the active forms of these vitamins, which means specific types of methylfolate instead of Folic Acid (see the linked article before purchasing active B9 supplements), methylcobalamin and pyridoxal-5-phosphate (P5P), which is active B6.” but I am still confused on if these are in the same ballpark.

    Reply

    1. Michael B

      Folic acid is Pteroyl-l-glutamate, so it’s like the MSG of Folates, and isn’t found in nature. “Folinic Acid” is natural folate found in green foods.

      Typically I’ve found high sulfites & pyruvates block zinc & B6 uptake causing CBS issues and potentially methylation issues. Gut pain after eating (leaky gut from low glutathione) can also cause a spike in Cortisol, draining methylation pathways, causing paranoia, twitchyness and stimming. Feeding more methylation will do nothing but cause, a bit more focus, pain killing, and stimming.

      Reducing sulfites, pyruvates/pyrroles, SSC (negatively effecting gut flora), and increasing Cysteine & Methionine anti-oxidisation and uptake, Cysteine progression to the safer Sulfate, Taurine (heart health), and to Glutathione (the cheif antioxidant, preventing leaky gut) – comes down to Selenium intake (Brazil nuts, tuna) for antioxidisation, and to molybdenum as you said (eggs, etc) for proper Sulfite Oxidase function, for their uptake.

      Selenium also improves the thyroid. Other things that help are potassium & sodium (potato chips), and magnesium (rice, etc), and natural sugar to reduce Glutamate. Fake sugur (aspartame,phenyllalamines acutally increase glutamate more). Folic acid (pteroyl-l-glutamate) increases glutamate and excitotoxibility more too. Same as MSG.

      Sleepiness increasing (at first), and peripheral neuropathy decreasing (sensitivity to arms, legs and back) are the recovery symptoms.

      Mike

      Reply

  14. Sara

    Is whole wheat flour also fortified? I was at Whole Foods today and saw that all the white flours obviously were (because they said “enriched” or stated with which vitamins they were), but the whole wheat flours just said “whole wheat flour” under the ingredient list. The whole wheat breads often did not have vitamins listed under the ingredient panel either. I didn’t buy anything because I was worried I would accidentally buy one that was fortified (like I just did with a bunch of soup!). I would like to eat whole wheat products.

    Reply

    1. Andrea Post author

      I would look at the label, Sara – if it says it includes “Folic acid, niacin, thiamine, etc.” then it is fortified. These will be listed in the nutrition facts box (usually).

      Reply

  15. Ika Staf

    So much interested information . I feel very confused , I have been diagnosed with MTHFR after 3rd miscarriage and my Doctor prescribed me folic acid high dose of 5mg per day. I have been taking since April and have been told that with future pregnancy I should not have any problem .
    I had another 2x miscarriages , in July 2014 and one in Sept. 2014, also I was taking penicillin and Heparin from day one , when we found out I was pregnant.
    I was reading in more than one article , to avoid folic acid and use folate…
    Shall I stop taking folic acid and start folate only ,or could i take both?
    is there anyone in similar situation , I would love to hear their opinion / story.
    Also , I have 2 yearl old girl already and had absolutely fantastic pregnancy with her, got pregnant 1st time and carry full term without any complications. Thank you Ika

    Reply

    1. Andrea

      My understanding is that you want to avoid all the synthetic forms of the B vitamins. So if it’s a ton of cyanocobalamin I would say yes.

      Reply

  16. Maria

    Thank you for your website! I was just diagnosed with compound heterogenous mutation yesterday and have been overwhelmed by the websites with the lists of horrible diseases and especially the autism risk for children. Do you have any more information on autism and mthfr? It seems to me that there is an elevated risk but it is not necessarily the cause of autism.

    Secondly, I plan on changing my diet immediately and was wondering what to look for on the label. Is folate ok or does it have to be methylfolate? Thanks!

    Reply

    1. Andrea Post author

      Hi Maria – everything I know about the autism connection is in this article. As for labeling, if the label says folic acid I believe (but am not sure) that it’s the synthetic version. Unfortunately when labels just say “folate” there is no way to tell. If folate is not listed I think you are safe to assume there is no folic acid. Unless you are looking at a vitamin or supplement bottle, I doubt you will see “methylfolate” listed anywhere. Good luck!

      Reply

    2. Tanya Gumkowski

      It is interesting to learn this connection with ASD. I have 2 sons and both are high functioning ASD. I was just diagnosed and now think I should have them tested. Could my having the mutation cause my sons to be autistic? I’ve often wondered what could have caused it. The hard thing is because of their autism they are very picky eaters and won’t eat the things that are “clean” and there is no “making” them. My youngest would starve before putting fruit into his mouth, much less a vegetable. He at them as a baby and one day just stopped. It is so hard. I know what they should eat but they will not. They don’t understand bargaining.

      Reply

  17. Pingback: Supplement Savvy Sunday #1: Shakeology – Why Am I Not Feeling the Benefits? | Diary of a Mutant 30-Something: Living with MTHFR

  18. Michael B

    Andrea, Cysteine (Cranberries) is the answer for leaky gut, gluten intolerance, low Taurine (heart/muscle control), and inhibited synapses.

    -Cysteine is used in high doses by hospitals to cure leaky gut.
    -Cysteine is used by chef’s to break down gluten in preparing meals (for mixing purposes).
    -Cysteine is 1 of 3 amino acids required to make Glutathione, the cheif anti-oxidant (low Glutahione means high leaky gut). The other 2 chemicals are Glutamate and Glycine, both typically high. Glycine encourages inhibited synapses, glutamate strong synapses as well as muscle building/repairing.

    Lack of information out there on cranberries is a conspiracy theory…

    Reply

  19. theresa

    curious if you have a list of premade items that you have found not to have the folic acid. I spent hours at the store today looking at gluten/dairy/soy free milks and I found lots but they all had folic acid but did not say enriched or fortified. could the folic acid be from natural sources? I can’t see myself making my own almond milk daily. Also I love cereal. but again couldn’t find anything that didn’t say folic acid. :( I eat everything else pretty much fresh but there are just some snack foods I enjoy. glutino pretzels, potato chips, cookies here and there. do you know of a site that have researched all this if you haven’t? I am almost afraid to eat anything. everything has folic acid or b12 natural or added.

    Reply

    1. Andrea Post author

      Unfortunately I don’t have a list, Theresa. I’m a dedicated label reader. If it is a processed food then most likely it’s synthetic folic acid. I haven’t seen any websites that have researched this either…there are just too many products. In general, however, I don’t find it too difficult to find alternatives if I’m shopping at places like Whole Foods.

      Reply

      1. Mila

        Thank you thank you thank you! I was dx last week and have found folic acid added to everything from Emergen-C to my iron supplements, which are now in the trash bin. I’m wondering how many people who assume they have a gluten intolerance, really just need to avoid folic acid. It is disheartening that Pfizer, who now owns Emergen-C also produces medicines purchased for health issues those with MTHFR gene mutations can develop.

        Reply

    2. Tanya Gumkowski

      Teresa, you should try looking at the Paul Newman line of food. I know he has crackers, pizza, and Oreo type cookies. They are daily free and I know the pizza uses whole wheat unfortified. I think the whole premise behind his food line was nothing artificial. You look into it.

      Reply

  20. Pingback: The MTHFR Gene | Jody McComas

  21. Sarah

    I was wondering–if the govt requires all these bread products to be fortified, is it possible to find products that are unfortified? I mean I can grind my own flour to make bread, but I don’t see myself learning how to make pasta… but I will really miss it!! Thanks. Sarah in Austin TX

    Reply

    1. Andrea Post author

      The gluten-free flours usually aren’t fortified and I’ve also found unenriched flour at Whole Foods (and I assume you could find it at similar stores). Good luck!

      Reply

    2. Christine

      I hear you- I LOVE pasta, and am now having to find non- enriched products too…

      BUT-

      Actually, Pasta is SUPER easy to make… a bit time consuming, but you can do up a big batch with the help of some friends, and then freeze it for later!

      Recipe: 4 eggs, 2 cups of flour. That’s it!
      Lots of mixing and kneading… add flour as needed until not sticky.
      Roll out thin. ( a pasta machine is a fabulous invention that is worth the price!! )
      Keep pieces of dough moist in a bowl with a damp cloth on top til you use them.
      Cut into squares for ravioli, or thin strips for fetuccini. ( don’t worry if they dry out at this stage )
      ( for this stage, I hang a string across some cupboard handles to hang the noodles on so I don’t use
      up too much space)
      Then boil as you would normally- they may take less time though.
      Add a bit of oil once the noodles are drained, and toss, so they don’t stick together.

      Give it a try- even if you don’t have the energy ever to do this more than once, it’s definately fun (and a little messy) to try, and the fresh pasta is amazing!!!

      Christine

      Reply

      1. Andrea Post author

        Thanks so much for suggesting this, Christine! I actually have a pasta roller attachment for my Kitchen Aid so I have been wanting to try it…nothing like fresh pasta…

        Reply

    3. Dyana

      Making pasta is not that hard just the rising time can be a bit much depending on your recipe…if you need or want a quick option look for Tinkyada rice pasta…it is gluten free and not fortified …it also seems -to my family- to be the closest in texture to traditional pasta and it comes in macaroni, spaghetti, and linguine …some box stores carry it but most health food stores carry it

      Reply

  22. Dawn @ Prickly Mom

    Hi Andrea! I hope you’re well. I was Googling “can the body rid itself of unmetabolized folic acid” and this was one of the top results. Do you know the answer to my query? :)

    Also, I just posted this on the new FB page my sister and I have started, called I Hate Folic Acid (I also bought the domain and we will be starting a blog).

    Sidebar: you mentioned the 800 mcg of folic acid you have taken in the past as a prenatal. I’m just curious: did it make you nauseous? I took 1 gram a day, as advised, throughout both of my pregnancies, and never got over “morning sickness.” (Of course this was before MTHFR was on anyone’s radar). It was so bad during my second pregnancy that my OB put me on Zofran for nausea. Looking back, it just makes me angry that my little boy had to be exposed to that extra junk in my body.

    Reply

    1. Andrea Post author

      Hi Dawn! Just liked your new FB page – thanks for sharing this post there =)

      It didn’t make me nauseous…in fact, I didn’t know what was going on until I had a miscarriage and then my body started crashing shortly after that. It’s hard to describe. I just went through some really strong hormonal changes but then also could not recover from the m/c. When I had a lot of bloodwork done by a specialist, I noticed the high folate and then tested positive for comp hetero MTHFR a couple of months later. My homocysteine was also high at 9.4

      Let me know what you find on how the body gets rid of unmetabolized folic acid! I am curious about how long it takes and what we can do to help it along…

      Reply

  23. Kaela

    So happy to find your blog! I was recently diagnosed with Compound Heterozygous MTHFR Deficiency (almost two weeks ago) and I was diagnosed with Hypothyroid disease four years ago, and I’m TTC. So, we seem to have a lot in common! I was prescribed MetanX, and baby Aspirin by my fertility doctor. I’ve started trying to avoid folic acid as much as possible, and increasing folate from natural sources. I’ve been slowly trying methods of detox (I feel like I’m one who really has problems with detox…). My next step is to have my homocysteine levels checked, and find a doctor who can help me manage my MTHFR Deficiency. In your experience, what type of doctor should I see? I am a little clueless about what type of doctor may be knowledgeable enough about MTHFR. Thanks for sharing your story. It helps to feel like I’m not alone! As I continue to learn more and more, I may have more questions for you! Thanks in advance. 😉

    Reply

  24. Dawn

    Just diagnosed with MTHFR and my Dr prescribed 1 mg of folic acid. It seems that folic acid is a big no no. I am I correct in this. I’m confused. Please help.

    Reply

    1. Andrea Post author

      You are correct. Please do not take any folic acid or consume foods fortified with it. You want the active forms of folate (methylfolate, for example) or food folate. I also highly recommend that you find a new doctor right away. There’s a list on the Resources page (see main menu of this site).

      Reply

  25. Janill

    I have been diagnosed for 2 weeks and prescribed Deplin, not a settling in my stomache. Any suggestions or thoughts, how to’s and what not to’s. Thank you!!!!

    Reply

    1. Andrea Post author

      Hi Janill – It’s really impossible for me to make recommendations to you as I am not a doctor and have no information on your personal health situation. Deplin could be too high a dose for you. I’m opening up an online community here in the next week or so and I’ll send you an invite when it’s live. Perhaps you can chat with others about their treatment protocols. There’s often a lot more to it than just taking methylfolate. Please visit our resources page and see the links under methylation for some treatment protocols and explanations. Drs Yasko and Lynch will be particularly helpful. Good luck!

      Reply

  26. Iva

    Hi Andrea,
    I am so glad I found your site. Things are so much clearer for me now. I also have MTHFR, and I lost two babies because of it, and I also cannot get pregnant easily, we are trying for 5 years now. After I read your site I completely changed my diet. My doctor only gave me baby aspirin to take every day, and when I asked him about folates and B vitamins he agreed with everything you described here on your site. But I have a problem, I live in a small country Bosnia and Hercegovina and I searched for these vitamins everywhere but unfortunatelly they are not selling here. So I decided to buy them online but there are so many of them and I really do not know which to choose. Can you please name some of the vitamins that you think are good so that I can search and order them online.
    Thank you so much for everything that you write here, I was lost without it :)

    Reply

    1. Andrea Post author

      Hi Iva – I am so happy to hear that my website has helped you!

      I purchase my supplements from two specific providers, both shipping internationally through third-party shipping companies. Just go to their websites and look for “International Orders.”

      Professional Supplement Center

      and Seeking Health, developed by Dr. Ben Lynch, the leading MTHFR expert

      I’ve also heard some international people say they order from iHerb but I don’t have any experience with them.

      I wish you a lot of luck on your conception journey – I’m in the same boat as you are…still trying. All the best, baby dust… Andrea

      Reply

  27. Someone with Asperger's and CFS/ME

    Since 1998, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been requiring food manufacturers to add folic acid to grain products like cereal, bread, flour, pasta and rice. The U.S. Government under the Obama Administration is all about change. Isn’t it time for a change as far as the FDA policy regarding adding folic acid to food products is concerned, as this is a counterproductive health-ruining policy affecting around 40% of the U.S. population. As of January 10, 2014, the United States has a total resident population of 317,440,000. So how many people does this FDA policy affect? Yes, perhaps something like 126,976,000 people in the USA alone.

    Reply

    1. Andrea Post author

      I couldn’t agree more! I think something that those of us who are MTHFR aware need to do is push awareness and work at raising money for studies to prove the negative effects. This is something I hope to get more involved in this year.

      Reply

  28. Joelle Connors

    Just found your site. I have MTHFR and my doctor recently told me to take folic acid, B complex, and baby aspirin. Every day. For the rest of my life. After reading your article and I am totally confused. Thoughts?

    Reply

    1. Andrea Post author

      Hi Joelle, The old way of addressing MTHFR was to advise patients to take lots of extra folic acid, seemingly in the hopes that the body would just process some of it and in this way one could overcome the enzyme deficiency. What we’re learning now from Dr. Ben Lynch and others is that folic acid (which is synthetic and not the same as methylfolate) may linger unprocessed in the body, especially with the homozygous mutations. This can lead to adverse health effects including cancer (please refer to published studies and resources linked in the article). The advised course of treatment is to take methylfolate instead, which completely bypasses the enzyme deficiency (the body doesn’t have to convert it to anything, it just uses it). At least that is my understanding. And for the B-complex, you want to make sure that you’re taking the active forms of the B vitamins (B12=methylcobalamin, B6 = P5P, B5 = Pantethine, etc.) The baby aspirin recommendation is correct. Watch out for folic acid in your B complex, even if it has some of the other active B’s); if you want to take a mix of folate vitamins you can do folinic acid (again, not the same as folic acid) + methylfolate.

      References:
      http://mthfr.net/l-methylfolate-methylfolate-5-mthf/2012/04/05/
      http://mthfr.net/l-methylfolate-not-needed-come-on/2011/09/26/
      http://mthfr.net/comparison-of-homocysteine-support-products/2011/09/13/
      http://mthfr.net/absolutely-no-folic-acid-question/2011/10/04/

      Your doctor is simply not up to date on the latest protocols for MTHFR. Happens all the time.

      Please note that this is not intended to be medical advice. I am merely passing along the information from leading doctors in the field like Dr Amy Yasko and Dr Ben Lynch. Please refer to the article for links to these sources.

      Reply

  29. Dawn @ PricklyMom

    My sister and I are new to the MTHFR club (we are both in our early 40s), and were just talking today about how absolutely sick we both were on prenatal vitamins. With my younger son, I was nauseous and had to take Zofran for my entire pregnancy. I bet it was too much folic acid!

    Thank you for writing about fortified foods! I would have never given that a second thought; it’s something that’s so ingrained in our food consciousness. Wow.

    Reply

    1. Andrea Post author

      Hi Dawn – So glad you found my site! I was loading up on folic acid and cyanocobalamin last year when we were trying to get pregnant. By April I was completely ill – and I had a miscarriage in February. Folic Acid strikes again! Once I got on the right supplements I felt so much better – and I’ll be reporting on some amazing results from switching to methylfolate in tomorrows post =)

      Reply

      1. Laura

        Hi Andrea,

        I am so glad I found your site. I recently found out that I have MTHFR and was prescribed 4 mg of folic acid daily by my RE! Now I am freaked out because I realize I shouldn’t be taking that but folate. What is a good folate supplement? I know that growing babies need lots of folate in order to reduce the risk of birth defects. I have been TTC for almost 3 years, have done 3 IVFs, have had 2 chemical pregnancies and I am convinced now that I am not staying pregnant because of these autoimmune issues. I also have elevated levels of natural killer cells. I am pretty sure that between the MTHFR and the killer cells that is why I cannot stay pregnant. Now I just need to find a doctor who will treat me for those instead of the typical RE who really doesn’t know much about either.

        Thanks for all that you share on this blog.
        Laura

        Reply

        1. Andrea Post author

          Hi Laura – so glad you found my site too! I am shaking my head at your RE because prescribing high dose folic acid for MTHFR is an outdated (but sadly very common) response to a MTHFR diagnosis. What you want is methylfolate, which can luckily be found in many over the counter supplements. I take the Seeking Health Optimal prenatal and you can order it online. Please also see my post about methylated vitamins because you’ll want to be getting enough B12 (as methylcobalamin) and checking those levels before starting (watch the video I link to there for all the info). I have to mention also that there are many other methylation SNPs that could be important for you. Examining these requires further genetic testing so it’s something you may want to look into, especially if you don’t feel good on the methylated vitamins. All of the information I am telling you here comes from MTHFR.net, which I highly recommend visiting to explore these issues in further detail. I also recommend Dr. Amy Yasko’s work (see resources page). I’ve been doing this regimen from the first of July and am now starting to see many improvements (it can take four months to improve egg quality and see the effects of supplementation at the cellular level, so I recommend patience here).

          Regarding the elevated Natural Killer Cells, I refer to the book ‘Is Your Body Baby-Friendly?’ by Dr. Alan Beer. Treatment is available for this and may differ depending on what type of NK cells you are having issues with. What you want is a good reproductive immunologist – perhaps check out the INCIID website and use the discussion forums there to find a doctor in your local area?

          Good luck and all the best!

          Reply

  30. Lynn_M

    For people with MTHFR, I certainly agree with you about the need to avoid folic acid in supplements, because those are big doses of folic acid. I think the situation is more equivocal when we’re talking about the amount of folic acid added to enriched foods. People with MTHFR don’t have a total inability to convert folic acid to active forms of folate. Even people homozygous for C677T still have about 30% of the normal conversion ability, so very small doses of folic acid will get converted.

    When a food is enriched, I don’t know what quantities of folic acid are added. But I suspect the quantities are miniscule enough that a MTHFRer could convert them to active folate, so it may not be necessary to worry about 100% avoidance of the folic acid in them. Of course if a person ate a lot of enriched foods, then the total amount consumed of folic acid might be a concern.

    Reply

    1. Andrea

      Thank you very much for your input, Lynn. The studies I was researching for this post mentioned that there is an overall concern by many that even people without MTHFR are consuming way too much Folic Acid daily because so many products are fortified, especially in the older population who may be more susceptible to cancers. The Folic Acid is allegedly not good for anyone in very large quantities. The problem, I believe, lies in how much enriched and processed food we eat as a society, especially in the United States. Plus many people take daily multivitamins that also contain this substance so they could be unknowingly getting too much. So that is why I am cautioning against it as my understanding is that the synthetic Folic Acid can also become inhibiting against the active form. Please do let me know if that is incorrect though!

      According to the Spina Bifida Association, the “FDA requires that 40 mcg of folic acid be added per 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of bread and other grain products…breakfast cereals do have the full recommended amount of 400 mcg in a single serving.” In Australia, they add 0.135 mg of folate per 100g of bread according to Wikipedia. The Harvard article also mentions that many nutrition bars contain the full daily recommendation. So I am really advocating that people check their labels.

      Reply

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