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The Common Gene Variation That Might Be Affecting Your Folate Intake

By Emily Gladders

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Genes are tricky, especially when it comes to your body’s ability to use all the good nutrients you put in. When we were making Essential for Women, we wanted to make sure that we created a vitamin that worked for as many women as possible--regardless of genetic factors. That’s why we were especially careful in choosing the right kind of folate, a nutrient that we all need for DNA synthesis and brain health. Because of a common genetic variation, many of us (some stats say up to 40%) have a hard time using the type of folate in most vitamins. This can lead to folate deficiencies, which manifest as fatigue, a feeling of weakness, a sour mood and some more serious health effects.  So how did we find the best form for all genetic types? Let’s get into it.

What is the MTHFR gene variation?

The MTHFR gene controls the production of an enzyme called methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase. MTHFR enzyme helps the body process and convert folate (also known as vitamin B9). This conversion helps the body create amino acids that we need to build proteins and other essential compounds.

People with an MTHFR gene mutation have a highly reduced ability to convert folic acid or even folate into the form that the body needs to create those amino acids.

How do I know if I have it?

To find out if you have the mutation, you have to ask your doctor for the genetic test for MTHFR gene polymorphisms. They might also test for additional genetic changes to MTHFR and other genes that work with folate. They may also recommend genetic counseling so you can understand what the results mean, and how it may affect your health later on in life.

What kind of folate do you need if you have the variation?

The MTHF form of folate, which we use in Essential for Women, is easier for your body to use if you have the MTHFR genetic variation. MTHF makes it possible for your body to create amino acids without doing all the conversions that those with the gene mutation find difficult. Ritual uses Quatrefolic, a patented form of MTHF called 6S-5-methyltetrahydrofolate glucosamine salt. The glucosamine, found in all of your cells, helps stabilize the MTHF so it reaches your cells in the active form and is easier to absorb.

How common is that type of folate in supplements?

Not common at all, and very hard to find in multivitamins; less than 1% contain MTHF and it’s often mixed with less active folic acid, dampening the benefits of the MTHF.

Questions about the MTHFR gene variation? Drop us a line at and we’ll tell you what we know.