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Hiya,

Just hoping you can help me out here. If I understand it well, MTHFR mutations impact the way in which the body processes B vitamins in general and folate in particular, so that folks with an MTHFR mutation basically end up with a whole bunch of deficiencies. This is what causes the health issues, not the mutation itself. But then folks also say not to take folic acid... confusing! I thought folate and folic acid were basically the same thing, except folic acid was the supplement and folate is in real foods? But people with MTHFR mutations do take supplements. Basically... explain, please?

TIA ^_^

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MTHFR itself is, basically, an enzyme that makes folic acid and folate usable. If you have a mutation, then this doesn't happen the way it should. With MTHFR mutations, even converting folate into a usable form is a great challenge.

Folic acid, which is a synthesized form, just doesn't work at all well for people with an MTHFR mutation. Because folic acid can't be processed, some say that it builds up in the body and causes problems there. I don't know about that, but in either case, it just isn't usable. Therefore, it's important to take special supplements that the body can indeed use, or to eat foods high in folate. In reality, you won't know if you have an MTHFR mutation unless you get an MTHFR test, though.

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Cheers. That does kinda make sense. It's not that easy to understand, though. For instance, methyl and methylation are mentioned an awful lot. What are these things exactly? What is 5MTHF, which is also talked about an awful lot? And how does this all apply to folks without MTHFR mutations? Folic acid is present inmost vitamin and mineral supplements I think? So is it bad/inferior for everyone is does that just apply to folks who do have a mutation? I'd look this up myself but it's near impossible to find it explained in easy to understand terms.
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This varies, but relating to MTHFR, methyl helps convert homocysteine to methionine, a form that can be used by the body. Methylation is the metabolic process linked to this. 5MTHF, also called L-methylfolate, is biologically available folate. This is the active form of vitamin B9 that your body can use immediately. 

If you have an MTHFR mutation, 5MTHF is basically what your body needs, as opposed to everything else, which it can't do much with. It is not just for people with MTHFR mutations, however. 5MTHF should also be better for pregnant women and those trying to conceive, as it is more easily processed than folic acid and better helps prevent neural tube defects.

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Reading about this, it seems that 5MTHF isn't "just" natural folic acid as you might find it in spinach or apricot at all. Even that folate needs to go through a metabolic process to become available to the body, apparently. 5MTHF is that form the body ultimately uses! 

I was interested in this myself, because though I try to eat healthily, life sometimes gets in the way and we can all do with some supplementation after periods of relying on fast food a little too much, right? It seems like 5MTHF is only really meaningful for individuals who are genetically unable to process folate in its natural form. Which means that it's not just folic acid supplements that are the issue in MTHFR mutations, but natural foods as well?

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Hi,

Folic acid, the synthetic form of folate, is unfortunately harmful for people who carry an MTHFR mutation. It's more than that the body is not able to use folic acid, it is thought to attach to folate receptors and simply stick around there, blocking you from absorbing folate properly as well. A complicating factor is that many foods are fortified with folic acid, making diet a big problem for people who are newly diagnosed with MTHFR mutations.

Now, if you find out you do have an MTHFR mutation, it is crucial that you start educating yourself on the topic. You will hopefully find a partner in a medical professional who is well versed in the subject, though they are harder to come by than you may think. With the right help, however, genetics are a factor you can overcome.

Rosie

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People with an MTHFR mutation are advised to not touch folic acid with a barge pole. It's in supplements as well as fortified foods, and basically, unless you're specifically looking to avoid folic acid, you'll get it. You also need to take methylated supplements and steer clear of (or at least reduce) methionine. 

I got tested after finding out I had high B12 and folate levels myself, and without the test, the cause of that would probably never have been discovered. I'd encourage anyone with a similar experience to research, research, research. Knowing about an MTHFR mutation can change your life for the better!

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Cheers folks! I got no idea whether I have an MTHFR mutation myself or whether I should potentially get tested... I was basically just curious 'cause I been reading about it a bit and found most of the info I came across confusing to say the least. That makes sense though. If you have an MTHFR mutation, your body reacts badly to folic acid and needs active folate (?) to get what it needs. If you don't know you have it, you presumably get sick? I did read this mutation, and there are apparently several genes that are involved, puts you at risk of several health problems, but how would you know to get tested?

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