Did you say folate?
Folate, the natural form of vitamin B9, is an essential nutrient for healthy living. For example, this water-soluble vitamin is crucial for forming the red blood cells that deliver oxygen to all parts of our body. Folate is also key to healthy cell growth and functioning.
In other words, without folate, our bodies wouldn’t be able to function normally.
Reduced consumption of folate-rich foods can quickly lead to deficiency. When the body experiences a folate deficiency, one may experience such symptoms as extreme tiredness, low energy, pins and needles in the skin, a sore tongue or mouth ulcers, muscle weakness, unclear vision, depression, and confusion.
Women who are planning to become pregnant or who are in the early stages of pregnancy are particularly prone to folate deficiency. A folate deficiency during pregnancy has been linked to birth defects of the brain and spine. Folate has also been shown to help increase fertility by boosting ovulation.
For most of us, we get enough folate by eating a healthy, balanced diet. Good sources of folate include dark green leafy vegetables like spinach and broccoli, beans, peanuts, sunflower seeds, fresh fruits and fruit juices, whole grains, and seafood.
While not eating enough fresh fruits, vegetables or fortified cereals is the main cause of folate deficiency, it can also be caused by overcooking your food. Furthermore, older people and those suffering various chronic conditions are more likely to suffer from a folate deficiency.
The Pros and Cons of Folic Acid
The best way to prevent folate deficiency is by taking a supplement, such as folic acid. Although folate and folic acid are often used interchangeably, they aren’t the same thing. Whereas folate is a generic term referencing all forms of vitamin B9, folate acid is one form of vitamin B9. You can learn more about this difference here.
While taking folic acid as a supplement makes it easy for the body to absorb the necessary nutrients, it does come with some risks.
Furthermore, some people do not efficiently convert folic acid into folate. That’s because before it can become biologically active, folic acid must first go through several steps that, ultimately, convert the inactive folic acid into the biologically active folate that our bodies can use. This biologically active form of folate is called 5-methyltetrahydrofolate. That’s quite the mouthful, so we’ll just refer to it as 5-MTHF.
Each step of this conversion process is controlled by specific enzymes, which is where things can get tricky – and go wrong. Some people have a genetic trait that makes it impossible for their body to finalize the conversion process of folic acid into the biological active form. Called MTHFR polymorphism, this genetic trait means the body struggles to convert folic acid into the biologically active 5-MTHF, which is where all the important cell-building benefits of folate are.
As a result, people taking folic acid with MTHFR polymorphism (also at higher dosage), might still have a folate deficiency. Furthermore, when folic acid is ingested but not converted, like happens with high dosage of supplementation, it could cause a condition called Unmetabolized Folic Acid (UMFA) syndrome. This syndrome can have a similar effect as taking too much folic acid for an extended period, resulting in an increased risk for cancer or problems with the immune system.
Quatrefolic®: All the Benefits, None of the Fuss
A workaround would be a supplement that provides biologically active folate minus the conversion – which is exactly what Quatrefolic® does. Instead of being a synthetic form of folate, such as what is found in folic acid and which requires the body to convert it into useable folate, Quatrefolic® provides the active 5-MTHF folate without the conversion steps.
Developed by Gnosis by Lesaffre, Quatrefolic® is the fourth-generation folate, the 5-MTHF glucosamine salt. It provides greater stability, higher water solubility and multiple ingredients formulation flexibility compared to 5-methyltetrahydrofolate calcium salt, therefore guaranteeing an improved bioavailability.
Taking Quatrefolic® can benefit everyone, not just those with MTHFR polymorphism. In fact, studies have shown that Quatrefolic® can help maintain and regulate gene expression, boost energy, balance one’s mood, improve cognitive function, help with detoxification, mitigate inflammation, and control the immune function.
In other words, choosing the right supplement that contains an active form of folate like Quatrefolic® can be a great advantage – guaranteeing you get the bioactive form of 5-MTHF you need without the need for bioconversion.