Today I had scheduled to write a post about iron and anemia but the issue is quite complicated and is going to require a lot more research and thought. So this is going to be a short little post for the day but alas, no less important. 

I read an incidence of confusion online today regarding folate. I don’t know if I misunderstood but perhaps the person was confused by all this talk about avoiding folic acid. The statement seemed to convey a thought that perhaps folate is also bad.

So this is just my little public service announcement for today…folate and folic acid are not the same thing. You WANT folate – lots of it. If you have MTHFR gene mutations, however, you lack sufficient enzymes to convert the cheap synthetic form of folate, called folic acid into a product that your body can use.

So eat all the vegetables and food forms of folate you want. The idea is to avoid the synthetic form, folic acid. There’s more on this here.

Some of you might be scratching your heads right now and saying, “Well, duh, Andrea, I knew that!” But this is all very confusing, especially for people who are just learning about MTHFR. Sometimes we forget what we know that others don’t. Almost every day I talk to someone who is just learning that they have MTHFR gene mutations for the first time. The questions are often the same and the confusing points are often the same. And as we are hammered over the head with stupid, stinking folic acid every day (and it is constantly confused with folate, or called folate incorrectly), of course people are going to confuse the two. I see this as an easy point of misunderstanding.

So I thought that even though this post might be a waste of time for those of you who are further along in your MTHFR and epigenetics learning, if it helps clarify something so important for even one person, it was worth it.

And while we’re on the subject of nutrients and confusion...let’s try to sort out what the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is doing lately with their new labeling guidelines for a number of key nutrients. I got another email today from the Alliance For Natural Health regarding the FDAs apparent inability to get its facts straight on nutrients and the fact that every body is different in the way it processes the various forms. I recommend a read of the linked article for more information.

5 thoughts on “Folate ≠ Folic Acid (and why you have to get this right)

  1. marion

    Both folic acid and folate from food need the mthfr gene. So if you have especially mthfr c677t, you may have to even limit folate. I read that riboflavib vit b2, helps the mthfr gene work more efficiently.


    1. Andrea Post author

      Thanks for your comment, Marion. My understanding of it is as Chris Kresser has explained so well in this post on the differences:

      “The form of folate that can enter the main folate metabolic cycle is tetrahydrofolate (THF). (2) Unlike natural folates, which are metabolized to THF in the mucosa of the small intestine, folic acid undergoes initial reduction and methylation in the liver, where conversion to the THF form requires dihydrofolate reductase. The low activity of this enzyme in the human liver, combined with a high intake of folic acid, may result in unnatural levels of unmetabolized folic acid entering the systemic circulation.”


      Could you please post a link to the source of your information so we may all better understand your comment? Thanks!


      1. marion

        your information is certainly documented and thorough. I hope that is truly the case as I love my spinach and natural sources of folate. I am now with a family member who is terminal, but hope to go over my sources soon and post my exact site. I hope I just misunderstood. Marion


  2. Paige

    GREAT article, Andrea! I enjoy each and every one of them. You have an AMAZING gift for writing. Thanks again! I look forward to hearing from you soon!


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