Nutritional supplements have become increasingly important in today’s day and age. Why? So many of the foods we eat are highly processed, meaning it’s impossible to receive all of the nutrients your body needs from food alone. In order to protect yourself from nutritional deficiencies and the implications they can have on your health, it’s important to be educated, listen to your body, and provide it with what it needs.
One supplement that is highly talked about today is methylfolate. This can be a tricky supplement to understand because it comes in different forms, which has lead to a lot of confusion in the health industry. However, your body counts on methylfolate in order to function at its best, so it’s important to know what it is, what it does for you, and how to make sure you’re getting enough!
Follow along as we break down everything you need to know about methylfolate:
What Is Methylfolate?
Methylfolate is the purest form of vitamin B9. It is essential for mood, cognition, behavior, and overall brain and body health. According to BrainMD, it helps in 4 key ways:
Your body cannot produce folate on its own, which means it’s something we have to get from the food we eat. As stated previously, though, we often don’t get enough of the nutrients we need today because of the way our food is processed, which means we then have to turn to supplements.
Methylfolate vs. Folate vs. Conventional Folic Acid
So what’s the difference between methylfolate, folate, and folic acid?
Methylfolate is the active and natural form of folate, also known as vitamin B9. When we take folic acid (folic acid is the synthetic form of folate), we rely on Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR), a gene and enzyme found throughout the body that converts folic acid to its active form, L-methylfolate. This process is critical to the body having enough folate.
For those who have a gene mutation affecting the MTHFR enzyme, their bodies are unable to convert folic acid to methylfolate. For this reason, it’s important for them to take methylfolate rather than just folic acid in order for their bodies to utilize the vitamin.
If someone with a gene mutation or digestive condition takes folic acid, this can result in unmetabolized folic acid which has been linked to poor immune function and a variety of other health conditions.
Folate is the natural form of vitamin B9, it occurs naturally in some vegetables.
Why Is Methylfolate Better?
Due to the risks that can be associated with taking folic acid, it has been shown that taking methylfolate is a much safer and more effective route. By taking methylfolate, you don’t have to worry if your body is actually reaping the benefits!
So why do many supplements on the market contain folic acid rather than methylfolate? Well, methylfolate is a high-end, more expensive ingredient. Whether you are someone who suffers from a condition like MTHFR or not, it’s always best methylated B Vitamins are a better option. Your body will thank you!
Am I Folic Acid Deficient?
At this point, you may be thinking, ‘Am I folate deficient?’
Folate deficiency is quite a prevalent issue, as there are over 200,000 cases in the US per year, and 30-40% of women are unable to metabolize the synthetic folate (folic acid) found in many products. When someone suffers from this condition, it can result in an insufficient number of healthy red blood cells, also known as Anemia.
So how can you tell if you’re folate deficient? Here are some symptoms to look out for:
- Lack of energy
- Pale skin
- Canker sores and/or a swollen tongue
- Poor immune function
- Premature hair graying
- Constipation and/or bloating
- Weight loss
- Shortness of breath
Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
Many women are aware of the importance of getting enough folic acid before and during pregnancy, however, it’s also just as important while breastfeeding.
According to WebMD, the recommended daily intake of folic acid before (it’s best to start taking folate one month before becoming pregnant) and during pregnancy is 400 micrograms (mcg). Why? Finding ways to incorporate folate into your diet and through supplements can help prevent birth defects of your baby’s brain, spinal cord, and neural tube. Additionally, it can help reduce your baby’s risk of other birth defects such as cleft lip, cleft palate, and certain kinds of heart defects.
In addition to protecting your baby throughout pregnancy, folate is also critical for your health. Meeting your recommended daily intake can reduce likelihood of developing Anemia, aid in DNA synthesis, and help with the rapid growth of the placenta and your developing baby.
So what about after baby is born? Breastfeeding moms need more energy and vitamins to meet their increased nutritional needs, folate being one of them. Folate is excreted in breast milk at the cost of the mother, which means if mom isn’t getting enough, baby will take from her own stores and put her at risk of folate deficiency. For this reason, it’s important to continue getting your recommended daily intake of folic acid during the breastfeeding period so you can provide for your little one.
Want to learn more about breastfeeding? Check out our Breastfeeding Guide For New Moms.
Ways to Incorporate Folate Into Your Diet
Folate occurs naturally in several foods, including:
- Citrus fruits (papaya, oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, raspberries)
- Dried beans, peas, and nuts
- Dark leafy greens (spinach, collard greens, mustard greens, romaine lettuce)
Not only are these foods rich folate, but many of them also contain other nutrients needed during pregnancy and breastfeeding, such as fiber, iron, and calcium. Consider these foods to be staples on your grocery list during this period of time, and even beyond!
When it comes to incorporating these foods into your diet, don’t be afraid to get creative! The key is to find a few recipes that you genuinely enjoy. Maybe it’s avocado toast sprinkled with chia seeds, a carrot cake flavored smoothie, or a black bean, corn, and spinach salad.
How Majka Can Help
Here at Majka, we’re committed to creating products that fuel motherhood and fill in the nutritional gaps that might be in your diet. That’s why we’re proud to say Majka products use methylfolate, the active form of folate that is easily absorbed and metabolized by the body.
Our Nourishing Lactation Protein Powder offers 100% of the recommended DV, of methylfolate. Adding a scoop to your daily smoothie can make for the perfect snack or healthy breakfast.
If you're looking for more information on breastfeeding and nutrition, check out these free resources and blog posts: