Feeling Fab with Folate

Feeling Fab with Folate

By Andrew Rickards

Feeling Fab with Folate

If you love babies, you love folate. It’s an essential nutrient best known for decreasing the risk of certain birth defects.  But even if you don’t love babies, folate is still a must-have involved in multiple life-sustaining processes including DNA synthesis. Being deficient in folate is not fun. Without enough of this wonder nutrient, the neurotransmitters that regulate your mood get lazy. Plus, not enough folate means not enough red blood cells which means not enough energy to make it through that 3 PM staff meeting.

Don’t want to feel as moody and tired as a sullen teenager? Us neither. So how should we get our folate? The best dietary sources of natural folate include fresh fruits, leafy greens, yeast, and legumes, but these can easily be degraded during food prep and cooking. That leaves supplementation as a great option to make sure you’re getting enough of this critical nutrient.

Dietary folate forms are either natural or synthetic. One of the most common synthetic forms of folate is called folic acid. It’s the form used in most supplements because it’s highly stable, and better at entering our intestinal cells than natural folate. But this is where the folic acid upsides end. Once folic acid enters a cell, it needs to be converted into 5-Methyl-THF by two key enzymes before your body can use it. The problem? Not only is the first step of this enzyme transformation sluggish, but up to 40% of us carry gene variants that hinder the second step of the conversion. It’s no surprise that having this gene variation comes with an increased risk for symptoms linked to folate deficiency.

When we were making Essential for Women, we decided to include the form of folate that’s the easiest for your body to use: 5-Methyl-THF. Unlike folic acid itself, it doesn’t need to go through enzyme conversion. Plus, it’s the form that works best for those of us with that MTHFR gene variant. Using science to find nutrient forms that are better for everyone? That’s what we’re all about.