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MTHFR Mutation And Folic Acid

What is methylation?

Methylation is a vital fundamental biochemical process in the body, linked to detoxifying heavy metals, regulating gene expression, protein functions, and neurotransmitter synthesis. Imbalances in the methylation process result from genetic defects in enzymes that regulate methylation.

In recent years, there has been significant interest in genetic testing, particularly the role of the MTHFR gene. A genetic defect in the MTHFR gene can lead to enzyme MTHFR dysfunction, which can impact methylation.

Some symptoms and problems related to insufficient methylation:

Insufficient methylation can cause a range of symptoms even before serious health problems manifest:

  • Fatigue, insomnia, depression
  • Tendency towards addictions
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorders
  • Frequent seasonal allergies
  • Low pain threshold
  • Digestive problems
  • Frequent headaches
  • High self-motivation, strong will, perfectionism

Insufficient methylation worsens with age, transforming psychological individuality observed in youth into physical health problems. These can include significant health issues related to detoxification, immunity, and various forms of cancer.

What is folate?

Folate is essential for many critical biochemical processes in our bodies. Over 40% of the North American population has folate absorption issues.

Folate is required for cell creation and maintenance (such as red blood cells), DNA creation and repair, preventing birth defects, regulating homocysteine levels in the blood (elevated homocysteine is a risk factor for heart disease), and other vital functions.

What is folic acid?

Folic acid is a synthetic form of naturally occurring folate. Folic acid is the primary synthetic form found in enriched foods and supplements.

Folic acid lacks biological activity unless it is converted into folates. Therefore, when individuals have trouble converting synthetic folate into its active forms, they lack the necessary folate for other bodily needs.

Even when there are no genetic mutations in folate metabolism, the body can only absorb up to 400 micrograms of folic acid per day.

Who needs additional sources of folate?

Folate deficiency is common and affects many groups of people, including:

  • During pregnancy (increased requirements)
  • In individuals with reduced folate consumption:
    • Excessive alcohol intake
    • Limited consumption of folate-rich foods, such as fresh vegetables and fortified grains
    • Poor diet
  • Living in areas where folate-poor food is prevalent
  • Reduced folate absorption due to various gastrointestinal issues
  • Folate loss during hemodialysis (along with other water-soluble vitamins), leading to the prescription of multivitamins containing folic acid
  • Increased folate needs, e.g., severe chronic hemolytic anemia for red blood cell regeneration
  • Taking medication that interferes with folate metabolism, such as methotrexate
  • Genetic disorders

Food fortification with folic acid

Folate is so essential that in 1998, the U.S. government mandated that grain products be enriched with folic acid. According to the 2017 “Food Fortification Initiative” report, 87 countries have legislation for fortifying “wheat flour, maize flour, and/or rice” with folic acid.

Is folate in food safe for those with an MTHFR mutation?

For individuals with an MTHFR mutation who accumulate synthetic folic acid, it is crucial to eliminate all sources of folic acid. These sources include:

  • Folate-fortified food
  • Many popular multivitamins containing folic acid
  • Injectable folate, often added to B12 injections

There is a clear distinction between foods naturally high in folate and those fortified with synthetic folic acid.

Foods naturally high in folate (safe for MTHFR):

Beans and legumes:

  • Black-eyed peas – 356 mcg per serving (89% of the daily value)
  • Mung beans – 80% DV per serving
  • Pinto beans – 74% DV per serving
  • Chickpeas – 71% DV per serving
  • Lentils – 90% DV per serving

Dark leafy greens:

  • Turnip greens – 42% DV per serving (cooked)
  • Romaine lettuce – 16% DV per serving (raw)

Brassica family vegetables:

  • Broccoli – 42% DV per serving (cooked)
  • Cauliflower – 14% DV per serving (cooked)
  • Brussels sprouts – 25% DV per serving (cooked)


  • Avocado – 30% DV per serving (raw)
  • Mango – 18% DV per serving (raw)
  • Oranges – 18% DV per serving (raw)
  • Asparagus – 68% DV per serving (cooked)
  • Liver – 50-60% DV per 3-ounce serving (as few people eat a cup of liver). The range in percentage depends on the type of animal.

Foods fortified with folic acid (unsafe with MTHFR mutation):


  • Bread
  • Cereals
  • Pasta
  • Flour
  • Baking mixes

What to do?

  • The best strategy to make your diet safe for MTHFR is to consume whole foods, natural unfortified whole grains, and avoid fortified products. Check your country’s food fortification policies for information on fortification.
  • Correction of methylation issues typically takes three to four months, with even more time required for individuals with certain blood groups (Group A or II). Supplements are selected individually based on test results.
  • Protocols do not correct the genetic defect, so they must be used continuously. Supplements are also tailored to individual methylation profiles. For example, multivitamins usually containing folic acid are never suitable for individuals with an MTHFR mutation.