MTHFR Questions – Specific products and Marmite.

This week, I’d like to get to some questions that listeners have been kind enough to leave on the website and within the community.

The first comes from Liana O and she says “Specific 5-L-methyltetrahydrofolate supplement recommendations and dosing, please?”


This is actually a really common question, and I’m probably not going to answer in a way that is satisfying because everyone is so different. Also, the products available to people vary so widely that the best I can give is guidelines.  In terms of people first starting on this journey, the absolute best, easiest, and most painless way to start is with a multivitamin that doesn’t have any folate or B12.


To my knowledge, there is only one such product on the market, which is made specifically for MTHFR  and by a fellow MTHFR mutant. It’s called Optimum Start by Seeking Health. This is a great product, and Seeking Health will ship internationally from their website, which is great, but as everyone who isn’t in the US knows, international shipping for something like this often makes it cost-prohibitive. I do have an affiliate account with Seeking Health, so if you’re ordering products I would so appreciate it if you’d do it via the link from tohealthwiththat.com to support the work I’m doing here.


Outside of that, there are a number of great multivitamins with low doses of methyl folate that can be really great for a starting place. One of my favorites is the Smarty Pants kids multi gummy.  It has a mere 37.5 mcg methyl folate per gummy. This won’t give you an adequate dose of everything else you need, but if you’ve had trouble with methylated folates before, it can still be a great way to start. Smarty Pants also has some great adult gummy vitamins that can be a good way to ramp up your intake slowly because typically the dose is split between 4 gummies, and also gummies are easy to cut in halves or quarters.


If you prefer capsules, look for high-quality multivitamins that have multiple capsules in the dosage and are made for adolescents or teenagers so the doses per capsule aren’t high. Some examples are junior nutrients from Pure Encapsulations, which has 100 mcg folate per capsule.  Thorne Research multi-encap is also a good choice at 130 mcg folate per capsule.  
In general, I prefer to buy from companies that follow good manufacturing practices and who sell primarily through practitioners. This includes companies like Thorne Research, Integrated Therapeutics, Pure Encapsulations, Xymogen, and NuMedica.  Divinci Labs also makes some nice products, as does Jarrow. 


At the end of the day, what matters most is local availability, even if it’s via amazon or a similar mail order service, and ingredients. Always look for doses on the low end of the spectrum, especially with methyl folate and B12. You can add in higher doses of those ingredients separately, which is the best strategy because it gives you more flexibility overall.


I know this seems like a non-answer to this question, but the most important to find something that works for you individually.

The second question is from Tim and is quite honestly, sending me on a bit of a hunt. He asks….

So, even though Marmite says it has Folic Acid, you’re saying it’s actually NOT Folic Acid, is that correct? You have me so scared of Folic Acid that I don’t want to be eating it. Thanks.

Now, you all know of my obsession with Marmite. It is a yeast extract quite similar to the one that was used in the initial research that found folate to be an important nutrient for pregnancy. Outside of being a huge fan, I have also always been under the impression that it was unfortified and that all the folate present was directly linked to the natural byproducts of the yeast.  I am at this moment, fearful that I might actually be mistaken about this.

These two pieces of information aren’t the same. But why? The answer is yet to be found.


I have a question pending with Unilever, the current manufacturers of marmite, but so far it remains unanswered. The label information is somewhat frustrating. The Food Standards Agency, which is the UK’s food regulation authority, also has a folic acid fortification program with wheat flour, but I can not find out whether or not the terms “folic acid” and “folate” are considered to be equivalent legally. If anybody from the UK can shed some light on that matter for me, I’d appreciate it.

I do know that the bottle in my pantry lists the ingredients as Yeast extract, Salt, Dehydrated Carrots, Spice Extracts, Dehydrated Onions. And that’s all. There is no mention of additional vitamins or fortification, which in Canada is a legal requirement. The label is definitely following Canadian guidelines otherwise, as it has all information in both official languages.

I called the information number on my bottle and left a message, which has yet to be answered.

Also, I “spoke” with the marmite website chatbot and I hate to say, the chatbot listed ingredients that I don’t see on my label. According to the marmite bot, it includes vitamins and one of those is folic acid. Sigh.

So, obviously, this still requires some investigation because if there is folic acid on there, why isn’t it on my label? Also – how much is actually in there? Is the entire 100 mcg dose listed as the amount per 8 g serving folic acid? It’s all a bit confusing.

I will certainly update you when I hear from Unilever and also from the Canadian helpline because the contradiction in information doesn’t make sense. It could be that there is a difference in the formulas depending on the country, but it seems like the label would be easier to change than the product.

To address the second point in the question, Tim mentions the fear of folic acid. This is something I want to talk about because while I”m not a fan of folic acid, the problems actually occur when it’s folic acid in high doses. Small amounts just slowly labor on in the process of being converted to something useful like 5-LMTHF, but they do eventually get there. So a small amount of folic acid isn’t going to be a problem if you’re just getting it from one source, like marmite, which still has good natural folates as well.

When it becomes a problem is when it’s the only source and you’re getting it everywhere. All the fortified grains, your multivitamin, some prescriptions, etc… Then is when we see folic acid building up and also folic acid gumming up the works of the methylation pathway. There is probably a safe threshold, but to my knowledge, that research really doesn’t exist yet. So at this point, minimizing intake is the safest bet.

Are There Other Yeast-Based Products Like Marmite?

Since Marmite is now in uncertain territory, I will give you some options. One of my favorites is nutritional yeast. It has a delicious cheesy-nutty-umami flavor and is easy to sprinkle on popcorn, add to sauces, sprinkle over veggies, or use as an additional flavor burst in things like salad dressings.

Like everything else with food, it’s a bit complicated. If your package doesn’t mention anything, then it is likely fortified, which means they’ve added extra B12, folic acid, and probably a few other B vitamins to the mix. This is kind of standard and so if they just say it’s a good source of B vitamins, then they’ve probably done this. Also, the fortification gives the flakes a bright yellow color – more like a true yellow.

Nutritional yeast is available unfortified as well, but you have to hunt for it. I can’t find unfortified at any of my local stores, but I can on amazon so I order a big bag once a year and that’s that. The unfortified tastes just as good but the color is a bit more gentle – more of a buttery yellow rather than a bright yellow.

If you have some in your pantry right now, check the color – I’ll put a picture below so you can compare.

Thanks so much for listening today and thanks Liana and Tim for the great questions. Make sure you’re signed up for the email list so you’re the first to know about upcoming courses.

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Checking In With Progress On The MTHFR Journey

Let’s check in with what is going on so far. If you’ve been following the process this season, you will have noticed that I haven’t really addressed what we’re doing in a while, so let’s touch base.

There are some reasonably long stretches in the MTHFR journey in which we aren’t really changing things, doses are just staying the same, and it might seem like not much is happening. The reality, in fact, is that lots of things are happening in your body but none of it needs additional input from you.

This phase of the journey is what I like to call “Burning Through The Backlog.” When you first start diet changes and methyl folate or SAMe or whatever workaround you’re using, you see the immediate activation of the methyl cycle and some immediate health changes. Usually, that feels like a better mood, less anxiety, etc… After that initial balancing phase, the progress slows down but it isn’t because your body has stopped doing things.

This part of the process involves unpacking your body’s to-do list. All of the things it couldn’t do in the past because methylation just wasn’t happening fast enough. It’s a time of more subtle change where neurotransmitters are slowly coming into balance, toxins are slowly being eliminated, inflammation is slowly decreasing and oxidative stress is balancing out. Even your hormones and energy levels are being influenced in this process

How To Make Sure You’re Burning Through The Backlog Efficiently – Check Your Basics

In this phase, it’s easy to forget some of the basics so the first thing I want you to do this week is to take a look at things you should be doing and tighten up where needed.

  • Folic Acid – Make sure folic acid is out of your diet and supplements and isn’t creeping back in without you noticing.
  • Balanced Diet With Natural Folates – Get lots of fruits and veggies, as much fiber as you can pack in, moderate protein, and plenty of good food sources of natural folate like lentils, black beans, spinach, asparagus, dark green leafies, avocados, marmite, and any kind of bean or pea you feel like eating.
  • Multivitamin – Keep up with the background of other B vitamins – this is usually in the form of a good basic multivitamin. All of the processes that are happening now, from neurotransmitter formation to detoxification, to energy production, to balancing your oxidative stress and reducing inflammation needs a good solid basis of all the B vitamins.
  • Sleep and Rest – I really enjoy the paradox presented by this particular issue. Most of my clients say they would love more sleep and rest, but it’s always the hardset possible thing to actually accomplish. Just keep trying to work actual sleep and actual rest into your schedule.
  • Moderate Exercise – because generally, MTHFR folks do best with regular exercise, but not extreme exercise. Ironically, there are lots of us who are professional athletes and serious competitive athletes, but for those people it’s important to make sure methylation is balanced and to compensate adequately for the extra damage being done to their bodies.
  • Detox Support – since detoxification is such a huge part of Burning Through The Backlog, it’s important to give your body the support it needs. This can be in the form of gentle detox teas, castor oil topically, sweating it out, extra dietary fiber, or some mish-mash of all of these things. We’ve done posts on detox support before as well.

Burning Through The Backlog Efficiently – Optimizing Your Dose Of Methylation Drivers

The supplement or supplements you’re taking that specifically support methylation should be dose-checked occasionally. Maybe quarterly in this whole process. This could include any one of the following supplements:

  • 5-LMTHF or another form of methylated folate
  • Folinic Acid
  • SAMe

These supplements are all pushing the methylation cycle forward and so may need an occasional check-in to see if you’re still on the right dose. Usually, this means trying to increase your dose to see how you feel.

Generally, in this process, you increase by the smallest increment you can and make sure you’re using your symptom tracker for a couple of weeks before and after so you can see if there are small changes that you might not notice otherwise. If you feel fine with the higher dose, that’s great. Keep using the higher dose unless you start to get symptoms that indicate that your dose is too high. If you get symptoms right away or within the first two weeks then go back to your original dose.

Symptoms That Your Dose Is Too High

Typically too high a dose of anything that drives methylation feels hyper-caffeinated. It’s anxious, restless, can’t settle down, fidgetty, has a racing heart, or feels like all-out panic. If you’re noticing any of that – even if it’s a small change, then your balance will be better with a slightly smaller dose.

What About Other Supplement Routines?

For some people, taking supplements that take an alternate route through the methylation pathway, rather than methylation drivers, is the best path forward. Especially if you’re starting out from a kind of messy health place. These are supplements like methionine or choline. Methionine just gives you more of the raw ingredients to make SAMe and choline cuts through the middle of the methylation cycle as a viable short-term work around. These are great band-aids, but probably not the thing you want to be relying on for the long-term. If you are looking for long-term solutions but really can’t manage any of the true methylation drivers – methylfolate, SAMe, or folinic acid – then choline is the better of these two options. You still need the other B vitamins, and as much natural dietary folate as you can manage.

Moving forward, it’s a good idea to check in with your body quarterly to see if your dose is sufficient or if you’re getting enough for your body’s needs right now. Your dose will always be somewhat dynamic. Eventually, you will actually catch up with all of the things on your body’s internal to-do list and need a far lower dose, so watch for those anxious/hyper symptoms and keep it on your radar that your best dose might need to decrease too.

Thank you so much for listening today and give some thought to joining us in Genetic Rockstars – the MTHFR community. This month we’re talking about some of the links between MTHFR and histamine, and it’s a great way to meet people who understand what you’re going through and who have great information to share.

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The Dangers of UMFA in Pregnancy

UMFA or unmetabolized folic acid is something that has been popping up on research radars more and more frequently in recent years. The combination of food fortifed with folic acid, multivitamin use, the popularity of B complex supplements for energy, and the standard practice of hyper-dosing women with at-risk pregnancies has led to UMFA becoming a common problem. Last week we discussed the remarkable results methyl folate produced in couples with infertility relative to the current standard of care, which is supplementing with folic acid. This week, I’d like to talk about the risks of too much unmetabolized folic acid or UMFA during pregnancy.

First, Let’s Talk Useable Folate

One very wisely designed study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, compared serum and red blood cell levels of total folate, 5-LMTHF, UMFA, and MeFox which is a methyl folate oxidation product – kind of the 5-LMTHF version of UMFA. The reason I call this study design “wise” is that it gives us a good window into what is actually happening here. Serum levels test the amounts in the fluid part of the blood, which is not yet inside the cells. This isn’t really a functional space for folate – it’s been absorbed digestively, but hasn’t reached useful cellular tissues yet. Red blood cell levels, however, measure the amount that is actually inside of the cell spaces and therefore doing something useful. This study didn’t differentiate between MTHFR or non-MTHFR, or at different forms of folate intake. It simply compares two different doses of folic acid.

One group received about 1.1 mg of folic acid in their prenatal vitamins. The other group received the prenatal vitamin amount plus an additional 4 mg to bring the total to 5.1 mg, or 5100 mcg of folic acid.

What they found in this study, was that the RBC folate level, which is the functional folate, didn’t differ significantly between the two groups. The high-dose folate group did have higher serum levels of total folate, UMFA, and even 5-LMTHF. Other parameters didn’t differ significantly.

The researchers came to the conclusion that there was some kind of tissue saturation happening, where more folate just can’t get into the cells, which makes sense. They also suggest that higher UMFA concentrations in the women receiving the high-dose folic acid indicates that these doses are “supraphysiologic.” That is a fancy way of saying the dose is just too high.

So What is All that UMFA Doing In Pregnancy?

Another study, also published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, studied UMFA levels in cord blood relative to autism spectrum disorder. Cord blood is the blood that remains in the placenta and the attached umbilical cord after delivery.

This study found that babies in the highest quartile of UMFA percentages in the cord blood had the highest risks for autism spectrum disorder. This effect was highest in black babies and significantly correlated with race. This correlation did not apply to the concentrations of 5-MTH or to serum total folate.

Another study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology In Practice, looked at the association between UMFA levels and food sensitivity and food allergy. This study tested total folate, 5-MTHF, and UMFA levels at birth and again in early childhood.

The researchers found that of 1394 children tested, 507 were found to have food sensitivities and 78 had food allergies. In those children who developed food allergies, the average total folate concentrations at birth were lower and the UMFA levels at birth were higher. Higher UMFA levels later on in childhood didn’t seem to have this same association.

I will quote from the conclusion of this study. “Higher concentrations of UMFA at birth were associated with the development of food allergies, which may be due to increased exposure to synthetic folic acid in utero.”

What To Make Of This?

These are just a few studies and so we really can’t, as much as we might like to, draw sweeping conclusions from them, but it certainly gives us some compelling evidence that too much of what is supposed to be a good thing, can rapidly become a bad thing.

Because we, with MTHFR polymorphisms, are more susceptible to problems associated with folic acid, I think it is important to have an informed and complete conversation with your health care practitioners about the risks of folic acid supplementation in pregnancy for us specifically, and the viable, albeit less well-researched option of supplementing with 5-LMTHF instead.

Links to the research studies I’ve talked about in this podcast are supplied in the complete show notes at tohealthwiththat.com, so if you’re planning a visit to your OB/GYN or midwife, go armed with research to show them.

Thank you so much for listening today and please make sure you’re signed up for our email list – the email list will be the first to know about new courses, programs, and freebies for MTHFR folks.

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The Harm That 5mg Folic Acid Can Do For MTHFR Fertility

This week I wanted to diverge on subjects a bit just because a very relevant question came up in the MTHFR community, This is such an important issue that I want to make sure it gets the attention it deserves.

One of our members in Genetic Rockstars is pregnant and her midwife is recommending 5000 mcg folic acid in spite of her MTHFR issue.  This is a common question because 5000 mcg folic acid is standard practice in many fertility centers and medical offices for pregnancies that are considered in any way at risk.

Like everything else involving MTHFR, research is limited but I do want to deep dive into a couple of relevant studies.

The most important piece of research to take to your midwife or fertility practitioner is a study published in the Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics in 2018.

This study followed 33 couples in which one or both of the partners had an MTHR polymorphism who had fertility problems lasting at least 4 years.  This could include recurrent fetal loss, premature ovarian failure, or abnormal sperm parameters – so bear in mind this could be the mother or the father who has MTHFR issues. Two-thirds of these couples had previously failed assisted reproductive technology attempts.

Most of the women in this study had been previously treated, unsuccessfully, with 5000 mcg (or 5 mg) folic acid.

The couples in this study were given 600 mcg 5-LMTH, which is the active form of folate, for four months before attempting conception or starting another round of assisted fertility treatment. This four-month period was chosen to allow for a complete cycle of spermatogenesis, which is approximately 74 days.

The results of this one simple intervention were, in my opinion, absolutely astounding. Of the 33 couples:

  • 2 were still in treatment at the date of reporting.
  • 13 couples conceived spontaneously (this is after four years of unsuccessful reproductive attempts)
  • 14 achieved successful pregnancies using ART (assisted reproductive technology). ART typically refers to IVF or in-vitro fertilization. 
  • 3 couples did not achieve successful pregnancies.
  • 1 couple failed to report back.

I am going to read the conclusion of this research article verbatim because frankly, I couldn’t sum it up better.

“The conventional use of large doses of folic acid (5 mg/day) has become obsolete. Regular doses of folic acid (100–200 μg) can be tolerated in the general population but should be abandoned in the presence of MTHFR mutations, as the biochemical/genetic background of the patient precludes a correct supply of 5-MTHF, the active compound. A physiological dose of 5-MTHF (800 μg) bypasses the MTHFR block and is suggested to be an effective treatment for these couples. Moreover, it avoids potential adverse effects of the UMFA syndrome, which is suspected of causing immune dysfunction and other adverse pathological effects such as cancer (especially colorectal and prostate).”

Servy EJ, Jacquesson-Fournols L, Cohen M, Menezo YJR. MTHFR isoform carriers. 5-MTHF (5-methyl tetrahydrofolate) vs folic acid: a key to pregnancy outcome: a case series. J Assist Reprod Genet. 2018;35(8):1431-1435. doi:10.1007/s10815-018-1225-2

The most startling result of this research, I feel, is the tremendous number of couples who conceived spontaneously after a simple few-month intervention with 5-LMTHF. Imagine the amount of heartache, expense, and medical intervention that could be avoided if 5-LMTHF became the standard of care?

The other issue considered here is something called Unmetabolized Folic Acid Syndrome, which has been demonstrated in  “wild type” people to cause pseudo-MTHFR. In pseudo-MTHFR, people who have fully functioning MTHFR enzymes have both high levels of unmetabolized folic acid and high levels of homocysteine in their blood. In people with an MTHFR deficiency, UMFA blocks the entry of folates into the folate cycle and further impairs the capacity of their already struggling MTHFR enzymes.

Unmetabolized Folic Acid has also been implicated in promoting colorectal and prostate cancer. And folic acid itself shows poor clinical success and in some cases, it tests worse than placebo in reducing homocysteine levels or downstream measures of cardiac health.

Next week I’d like to talk about some of the issues that have been linked to high levels of unmetabolized folic acid in pregnant mothers and the problems that travel downstream to those unborn children. If you haven’t done so already, please sign up to the email list on tohealthwiththat.com, or join the MTHFR community Genetic Rockstars at community.tohealthwiththat.com. I have big plans this year for courses and I want you to be the first to know.

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S2E16: Hydration and MTHFR

Water is so talked about that it’s incredibly easy to ignore. Like everyone knows we need a ton of water, so that can’t be the key to anything, it’s just too common. Too simple, too “normal.” I get that. We talk about it so much in every health format, that people just skim right over it because they’ve heard it before. It’s easy to wear-out an idea in this way so that the value of the thing gets lost, and unfortunately that has happened to many of the pillars of health. Things like eating your greens, drinking enough water, exercising regularly, and even mindfulness. Yeah, yeah, we’ve heard all of that.

I know. I do understand and I can be guilty of disregarding the simple things too. But I want to emphasize a point here – it isn’t just water, it’s hydration. Hydration matters for MTHFR, in fact, hydration matters for humans, MTHFR or not.

Why Are Hydration and Water Not The Same Thing?

Hydration, the way I’m using it here, doesn’t mean how much water you drink. It doesn’t even mean how much water you absorb. In its most important context, it means how much water gets into your cells.

This might seem like an odd benchmark, so let’s talk it through.

First off, I have seen many, many people who drink a ton of water, but who are still chronically dehydrated. That seems like a thing that shouldn’t happen but it does, and frequently.

Do you remember in chemistry class in high school learning about osmosis? I’ll put a picture of it here to jog your memory.

Osmosis is the diffusion of water through a semipermeable membrane down its concentration gradient. This file is generously licensed under creative commons and is from OpenStax online Anatomy and Physiology Text. https://openstax.org/books/anatomy-and-physiology/pages/3-1-the-cell-membrane

The osmosis experiment shows water moving across a semi-permeable membrane (which is most of what humans are made of, but certainly cell membranes qualify). The water moves so that the concentration of salts, minerals and solutes in general (which means things dissolved in the water) is equal on both sides of the membrane. To say it a different way, it shows water following salt and minerals through a semi permeable membrane.

This is exactly what happens in real life, too. Not just in high school chemistry or biology. Water follows salt and minerals and goes where those concentrations are the highest.

Great! So What Does This Have To Do With Hydration?

Well, everything. The goal is not just getting water in, but getting it into your cells. This means that salt, minerals, or some other good things that your body likes to pull into your cells could actually pull water with it.

Let’s say, for the sake of a vivid argument, that you drink distilled water all day long. Distilled water has no or extremely little of anything other than water in it – it is very pure and free from mineral contamination. That sounds good, and as you drink it, your body absorbs it into your bloodstream. Also good.

Now it’s in your bloodstream diluting your blood so your body pushes some of it into your cells. This seems good – it’s all going according to plan. Except, as you continue to drink more, the balance is getting too watery on the bloodstream side so your body does something that most semi-permeable membranes can’t do. It pushes salts into your blood to help balance things out because our cell membranes have active transporters as well. That wasn’t in the chemistry experiment.

So now salt is going out of the cells, and that’s not great. That means the cell won’t draw in as much water in the near future until it gets its salts and minerals back.

What are these salts and minerals of which we speak? They’re electrolytes, and the reason why most sports drinks have them is that they do actually help to push water into cells because your cells are hungry for them so they grab them up, then water follows along behind.

The Key to Hydration is Electrolytes.

Electrolytes are irresistible to cells and the higher quality the electrolytes, the better. Every time you drink water, try to remember to put a dash of electrolytes into it. You’ve got a few options.

  • Himalayan pink salt or good quality sea salt. These are rich in sodium, but also balanced with other minerals including the trace minerals your body might be lacking the most. Just a pinch in a 16 oz glass will do. The water shouldn’t taste salty like sea water, it’s just a small amount to help absorption.
  • A squeeze of lemon or lime juice. Hydrating and yummy at the same time. Total bonus. Lemons and limes are rich in minerals, have small amounts of fruit sugars (which your cells also gobble up) and will also help that water get to the right places in your body.
  • A splash of organic apple cider vinegar. Again, this doesn’t have to be enough to make your throat burn like hellfire, just enough to add a good healthy dose of minerals and yeasts from apples.
  • “Half-salt” or “No-salt.” This is actually a potassium-sodium blend (or potassium only) and is great for those on a sodium-restricted diet.
  • Powdered Magnesium. There are a number of magnesium powders you can add to your water and these are perfect if you tend to be tense or anxious. Remember, we’re not looking for the dose on the package here, we’re just adding a pinch to make your water more hydrating.

Now, I know you’re thinking that there are sports drinks for this type of thing. That is true, but anybody who drinks 64 ounces of sports drink daily isn’t going to be in good health. Sports drinks are pretty good for during or after activity in which there is a lot of sweating and burning of calories, but for sitting behind a computer they’re pretty much the salty equivalent of a big gulp.

Sports drinks are meant to replenish a large amount of electrolytes in a short amount of time and aren’t appropriate for all-day drinking. We’re looking for much smaller doses spread through a lot more water.

Just remember, it isn’t how much you drink, it’s how much you get into your cells that matters. Keep your cells nice and plump and watery with simple additions to your drinking water.

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S2E11: Starting 5-LMTHF or SAMe with MTHFR

This is it! The big methylfolate start. You’ve got all of your preliminaries done – folic acid is out of your diet, or at least 80% out. It’s out of your supplements too (100% please!) You’ve ramped up the natural folate from food sources and you’re tracking those symptoms. You’ve even got a good background of other B vitamins on board. Now…. drumroll please… the moment you’ve been waiting for.

Starting 5-LMTHF or SAMe.

I know, I know. No other vitamin gets this sort of wind up so let’s talk about it.

First off, I do want everyone to start with a small dose of 5-LMTHF, but if you hit a dealbreaker scenario then it could be a good idea to switch to SAMe instead. If that happens, it’s best to treat SAMe the same way you would 5-LMTHF because it can cause a lot of the same symptoms if the dose is wrong, so follow this same process there as well. So let’s talk about the different things that can happen in a methylfolate (or SAMe) start.

5-LMTHF Dealbreaker Scenarios.

There are two scenarios that mean you are probably not going to tolerate 5-LMTHF, and so it’s important to know what to watch out for.

  1. Your tiny starter dose is too much already. This is a thing that happens. You start out with a tiny baby dose of 5-LMTHF and right out of the gate you’re starting to feel crazy-pants. Wired, wound-up, uncomfortable, restless, hyper, anxious, irritable. These are all words that I’ve heard (or experienced) to describe the this-dose-is-too-much feeling. Also it can be physical symptoms like heart palpitations, racing heart, flushed skin, hot feeling, prickly or itchy feeling, or difficulty sleeping. This usually means that even this tiny baby starter dose is pushing your body too fast. Now. I do want you to be honest. If your tiny baby starter dose was 1000 mcg, then re-assess your idea of a starter dose. If it really was a small dose – like 200 mcg or less – then you might just not be able to tolerate the 5-LMTHF. For some people in this category, even small amounts of natural folate in foods push them over the edge. If this is you, stop the methylfolate and wait a few weeks. We’ll talk about what options there are for non-tolerators, I promise.
  2. Methylfolate makes you fall into the darkest, blackest, pit of despair possible. This happens very rarely, but it certainly happens. This happens to a small segment of the population whose serotonin levels are perilously low to begin with and adding folate of any kind drops the bottom out of this neurotransmitter pathway. It’s interesting because folate actually increases serotonin production, which sounds like it should make a positive impact, but it also up-regulates something called SERT even more, SERT is a selective serotonin reuptake transporter that helps to clear serotonin out of your synapses and pulls it back into the releasing neuron. When SERT is unregulated the serotonin you have becomes less effective because your body doesn’t get very much time to enjoy it before it’s gathered up. If your serotonin is extremely low then this can push you over the edge and make it just not worth it to take folate. We talked about this in Season One Episode 12 (Methylfolate Makes me Feel Bad) and that one is a good review of the serotonin situation.

If you happen to hit one of these dealbreaker scenarios, then we’re going to stop methylfolate and look to an alternative. The alternative could be folinic acid or SAMe or something else – stay tuned for more on this topic in a few weeks. Until then, just hang tight with other B vitamins, no folic acid, food sources of natural folate as much as you can tolerate and healthy lifestyle choices.

5-LMTHF Start Expectations

Most people who start 5-LMTHF won’t hit anything like a dealbreaker scenario. Those happen to a tiny minority of people – especially when you’ve done all of the groundwork properly. But even when things go right, stariting methylfolate can feel weird.

When I first started the things I noticed were nothing like what I was expecting. I felt a bit buzzy in a pleasant way, my vision seemed brighter, and my head felt strange. Like my physical head, not my brain or mind. I have no idea why my head felt strange, but in good news all of those feelings wore off after about three days. Here are some other things that I’ve heard from folks just starting methylfolate:

  • Don’t notice anything at all – I feel totally normal.
  • Ringing in ears
  • More talkative
  • A bit grumpy or moody
  • Sweat more
  • Dreams are more vivid
  • I feel amazing.

Let’s face it – we’re moving around some big internal chess pieces, so a few minor changes can be totally normal and for most people they go away quickly. By far, the biggest group either feels nothing, or feels great.

There is another group who feels great at first and then a couple of weeks down the road starts feeling like they’re taking too much. Like they’re feeling speedy or buzzy or anxious in an unpleasant way. This is really normal too.

What Can I do To Make This Easier?

Honestly, I am erring on the side of overly cautious so most of you will start 5-LMTHF and wonder what all the fuss was about. That is completely ok. I would rather you were over prepared than underprepared. Also, it is likely that as you’re working through the MTHFR process, there will be some point at which you take too high a dose of 5-LMTHF. Since you’re prepared, you will know what is going on and not freak out. At least, that’s the goal.

Having said that, if you tend to be sensitive to supplements or if you just want to give your body the best start you can, then make sure you are doing some of the basics.

  • Drink plenty of water and add some lemon juice or a pinch of sea salt for optimal hydration.
  • Sleep more. Sleep helps everything.
  • Don’t overstuff your schedule during this time – take it a bit easy if you can.

What Can I Do If I Take Too High a Dose of 5-LMTHF?

During this whole process of working with your MTHFR, it is really normal to have feelings of too high a dose at least once (if not a number of times.) It isn’t a problem, as far as we know you aren’t actually doing any harm to your system. What it is, is great information. Your body is telling you something and all you have to do is listen. This is your signal that the dose is a little too high and you could decrease it. Here are some ways to manage this:

  1. Decrease your dose – Decreasing your dose can mean finding a lower dose supplement, or finding some kind of alternate schedule like one day on, one day off. Even one day on, two days off. It just depends on how your body responds.
  2. Stop your dose entirely – if your symptoms are extreme, then this is the best course of action. Just stop, take some other steps to help your body calm down, and re-assess after a couple of weeks.
  3. Exercise – if you’re in the middle of symptoms of too-high a dose, exercising can help your body to use up some of those methyl groups and get you through the strange symptoms faster.
  4. Niacin – 50 mg of niacin in the straight “niacin” form helps to eat up those excess methyl groups as well and can help to relieve symptoms. The only problem is that it can cause a flushing reaction, which feels like a hot flash complete with red face, itchy or prickly skin, sweating, and generally feeling super weird. It doesn’t last long, but it’s very vivid. You can re-dose after an hour, but don’t do this more than 3 times total in a day and watch your blood pressure because niacin can really lower it.

In any event, this week is the week we start. Make sure 5-LMTHF is the only thing you change right now and that you’re starting with a LOW dose – 200 mcg or less. Also, keep symptom tracking and make note of anything new that pops up. This should be the only change you make for at least two weeks but four is better, just to give your body time to get used to this new thing and to tell you if the dose becomes too much. Remember that symptoms can pop up after a week or even two of being on the same dose, so don’t make any sudden moves.

Thanks so much for being here and for doing this process with me.

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S2E9: MTHFR Questions

I love it when listeners leave me questions so here is this month’s roundup!

I don’t have a doctor that advises me about MTHFR. A mental health provider suspected the mutation because of years of resistant depression. She did a swab to test genetics for specific medication absorption which included MTHFR testing.we found that I have compound heterozygous mutations. I’ve been on high dose methyl folate and B12 for a few years and wonder if I should be getting regular tests for levels etc. where should I go? I have researched the topic myself online but it’s very confusing and there seems to be no general consensus. Can you help me? Thank you,

– Jamie L

This is a great question, Jamie because so many MTHFR folks are out there doing it on their own. Unfortunately, online and between practitioners, there is absolutely no consensus on the best way to do this, so really it comes down to finding the right way for you.

I notice you mention methylfolate and B12 and that is great, but make sure you’re taking the other B vitamins as well because they are all necessary for this to work – especially riboflavin. Also, if you’ve been taking high doses of methylfolate without other Bs, then cut your dose down before you start them because the dose might be too high once you get the other pieces of the puzzle in there.

In terms of testing, the things we want to look at specifically for MTHFR are folate, B12, and homocysteine. Testing every couple of years is fine. Testing folate is complicated because unmetabolized folic acid can be mixed into your total so the test isn’t so valuable except to show us trends (like it’s getting higher or it’s getting lower). B12 testing is straightforward as is homocysteine testing and if you aren’t familiar with homocysteine, check out Season 1, Episode 40: Homocysteine by The Numbers.

Outside of testing, the biggest determinant of whether or not you’re on track is your symptoms. How are you actually doing? If you’re not where you want to be, then maybe it’s time to work with a practitioner who has knowledge about MTHFR and can help you on your path.

Hi! I have an 8 year old boy. He was diagnosed ADHD at the age of 6. We started him on methylphenidates at age 7. We have tried nearly all of them and none of them agreed with him. We had gene testing done earlier this year and MTHFR came back as “Low to Intermediate activity”. Majority of the ADHD medications came back with lower odds of response. What do I do with this information? We have family history of bipolar and anxiety disorders. The adhd medications really brought out a lot of anxiety in my child. He is very competitive. He is obsessive. My son has a terrible issue with skin rashes that started when he was 4. We had skin patch testing done. He’s allergic to hydrocortisone, formaldehyde, fragrance. Once we took gluten out of his diet as well his rashes were more under control. Every time I listen to your podcasts I think some of my son’s issues point back to his MTHFR. Do I take this to his pediatrician? Do I work with his psychiatrist? Do I see a functional medical doctor? What do we do next?

– Mindy J.

ADHD on top of MTHFR is very common and it’s a difficult situation because the medications that help so many other kiddos just don’t work here. I DO think that addressing the MTHFR is the next best step. I would talk with both his psychiatrist and his pediatrician and see if either of them is comfortable fielding this issue in a way other than prescribing massive doses of folic acid, because that won’t be helpful.

If they aren’t familiar enough with MTHFR, then find a practitioner who is. It’s always best to work with someone local, but if you can’t find someone then I do still work with people one-on-one. Check the Amy + Health Coaching link at the top of the page on tohealthwiththat.com

This is why MTHFR folks need other Bs. It isn’t just about folate.

Hi! I am compound heterozygous so I of course have the C/T and A/C copies. I am hoping to start trying to get pregnant soon and I want to know what vitamins I should be taking that will work with the copies that I have. I am on 5mg of l-methylfolafe right now but no B vitamins. I tried a b complex and it made me very mean and hateful so I have been scared to try anything else. I want to have the best chance at a healthy pregnancy, thank you!

– Breonna H.

Congratulations on future baby-making, Breonna. That is such an exciting time. I’m so glad you brought this up because it’s really common for people to start 5-LMTHF before other B vitamins or B12 and then have weird reactions to other Bs when they start.

It is absolutely crucial that you do start other B vitamins. I think the reason why the B complex made you mean and hateful before was that with the other B vitamins there, suddenly your dose of 5-LMTHF was way too high so it was actually that causing the mood and attitude changes and not the Bs.

Basically what is happening in this situation is that your MTHFR enzyme is still really limited because it needs other B vitamins to work – riboflavin is a direct cofactor and without riboflavin, it just won’t go. So your dietary intake of riboflavin was maxing out the amount of 5-LMTHF that you can use.

So you do need to add a B complex back in there, but before you do, drop your 5-LMTHF down to 1mg for a couple of weeks and then add the B-complex. Also, check the B12 in the B complex because some people have a weird reaction to methyl-B12 too. Here’s a post on all the different forms of B12.

When you do give this a try, let me know how it all goes!

How do my folate levels drop after starting Metanx and multivitamin with active folate?

– Human

This is another great question, and I’m actually guessing a bit because I don’t know where your folate levels were before you started. I can say that what I see often in clients is that they come in with super high folate on lab tests, but functional folate deficiencies. Once we eliminate the folic acid and get them started on active folate then blood levels are technically getting lower because we’re clearing out the unmetabolized folic acid that hangs around in there cluttering up the works. Or at least that’s what we hope to do. Even as folate levels look like they’re dropping, the person is symptomatically improving.

I see that happen a lot, but if that doesn’t sound like what is going on for you, reach out again and give me a bit more detail so I can answer more thoroughly. Just remember that serum folate measures everything in the serum – usually that includes natural folate, 5-LMTHF that has been made by your body, whatever folate you’re taking, PLUS any unmetabolized folic acid that is still kicking around. It isn’t a great test on in terms of value on its own, but what we can do is exactly what you’re doing, which is compare numbers over time. But typically we want this to drop a bit as the unmetabolized folic acid (or UMFA) is leaving your system.

I *love* listener questions and I’d love to answer yours. If you happen to have a question, let me know. There is a video-ask for questions on the home page of tohealthwiththat.com. I’ll try to do an answer podcast every month or two just depending on how many questions come in. I also love meeting you guys in Genetic Rockstars, it’s an MTHFR community away from the craziness of social media with lots of inside information, polls, tips, and generally other MTHFR folks who are talking about their experiences. Please join us at community.tohealthwiththat.com.

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S2E7: B12 and MTHFR

If you’re following along with what we’re doing, last week you added in B vitamins as a group. Typically this goes well for MTHFR folks because other B vitamins help the methylation pathway to turn, but don’t push it too quickly with methyl groups. There is one exception to this, and that is vitamin B 12 – specifically the methylcobalamin form of B12. We’ll talk about that in a minute.

First – let’s check in with where we are in the process. If you haven’t added any B12 yet, then this week we’re going to add it. If you have added B12 then let’s learn a little more about the form that you’re taking and continue to symptom track so we know how your body is responding. Let’s dive into the forms of B12 that are available and what the differences are between them.

If you started with the Seeking health B complex or vitamins then you don’t have to worry about this – they’re designed for MTHFR folks and so don’t have anything methylated in them. If you weren’t able to get those specific products then I want you to go right now to wherever you keep your vitamins and check the label.

The B12 will be called *something*-cobalamin. Cobalamin is the actual vitamin and the *something* is whatever it is bonded to. Just like folate has to be methylated to become its active form, B12 does as well so methylcobalamin is the most biologically active form of B12. It’s also the hardest one for MTHFR folks to tolerate.

This is where your symptom tracking comes in. Now, you wouldn’t be the first person to give me a withering look when I mention symptom tracking for the 800th time. I get it. Everyone is tired of hearing about it. But the problem is, that humans are used to living with symptoms that change on a daily basis and unless you’re paying attention, a lot of these symptoms get dismissed as “normal.” So, it can be “normal” to have intrusive thoughts one day and not other days for no reason you can put your finger on. It can also be normal for one day to be more down or more up than others. Symptoms, especially when they’re minor, changeable, or transient, just get ignored or shuffled off to the side.

This is a great strategy to help you function as a human, but it isn’t so helpful if we’re actually trying to evaluate health changes that you’re making. So if you’ve just added a multivitamin with methylB12 and suddenly you’re having heart palpitations 50% more than you usually do, that is something we need to know. Hence, the symptom tracking. I will step down from my soap box now, and carry on with the discussion on B12.

Vitamin B12 comes in a number of different forms. The most common and widely available is cyanocobalamin. It’s the least expensive form and generally does a fine job for most people. The cyano-prefix is actually short for cyanide, which tends to make people jumpy, but the dose of actual cyanide you get from cyanocobalamin is so negligible as to be a non-issue. Lots of people get nervous about it, but personally I’m not so concerned. It isn’t necessarily the best B12 on the market, but it will do the job. The cyano- group does have to be detoxified, so it does add a small burden that way. This is also the form most commonly found in injectable B12, which is a great option if your absorption is poor or if you have a profound deficiency.

Strangely, different people respond very differently to the forms of B12 and we don’t really have enough research to understand why, so B12 is one of those vitamins that I suggest doing a bit of your own human guinea pigging with (if guinea pigging is an actual thing). As your health journey progresses, it can be helpful to try the different forms separately and see how your body responds. Personally, I don’t do well with the methyl form at all, but respond wonderfully to the hydroxy form of B12. I notice a positive difference with it, where the methyl form just makes me jittery and irritable.

If you do notice any strange symptoms coming up this week and you did start a B12 last week, then check your form. The methyl form is known for giving people anxious, restless, wound-up energy that doesn’t feel good, intrusive thoughts, anxious thoughts, heart palpitations, and it can even be bad enough to push panic attacks or interfere with sleep.

I don’t want to villainize methylcobalamin. It is already methylated, which is a big help for those of us who methylate poorly and can take a burden off of our systems. It doesn’t need to be detoxified and it’s already biologically active. It is the most effective form of B12 for things like nerve health and if you tolerate it, then it’s probably the best form for you.

The hydroxo- form of vitamin B12 still has to be methylated to become biologically active, but it has the advantage of being almost like a sustained release vitamin B12, and so can be extremely helpful if your energy tends to suffer high peaks and low valleys – this one can help to even things out a bit. It’s not as easy to find as some of the other forms, but it can make getting your B12 far easier to bear.

The adenosyl-form of vitamin B12 is actually unique in that this is the form your body puts into storage, which makes it quite different from the other forms. Typically, excess B12 that you take as a supplement just washes out, but the adenosyl- form might actually go into storage. There is some very compelling informtion showing that this form might actually be the best for chronic fatigue , which is now being called myalgic enciphalomyelitis, or ME/CFS.

Research hasn’t kept pace with what people are doing clinically, and so the research on chronic fatigue shows great improvement for some people with B12 and folate supplementation, but doesn’t yet get into the nitty gritty between different forms of B12 or different forms of folate. In fact, all of the research I have seen is done using the cyanocobalamin form of B12, and plain old folic acid. Many chronic fatigue specialists, patients, and community forums indicate that the adenosylcobalamin form of B12 has the most profound effect for them.

If you have noticed an issue with your B12, switching to a hydroxy or adenosyl form might be easier to bear. They metabolize more slowly and so you aren’t faced with the overwhelming rush of energy. We also talked about the different forms of B12 in Season 1, episode 44 so if this episode isn’t enough, check out that one as well.

Again, this is a personal response situation, so if you’ve been taking one form and either don’t notice improvement or have side effects then try switching to a different form and see how you do. We humans are unpredictable creatures and if I’ve learned anything from MTHFR, it’s that the sum total of a human is so much more than their genes, lab tests, and stressors. We are unpredictable creatures and there are no two of us alike.

I am happy to say that the Patreon page is up and running, even if it is in its baby beginnings. If you feel like you’re learning something here and want more of the podcasts – please become a patron of the show on Patreon. It will help get great information to you and to other MTHFR folks as well. Plus, there are some patron perks. Visit Patreon.com/thwt Thanks for listening!

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S2E6: B Vitamins with MTHFR

If you’re following along with our step-by-step process, then you’re well ahead of most people who start their MTHFR journey with Dr. Google. Congratulations. This week we’re going to talk about avoiding one of the biggest mistakes that people make in their MTHFR quest for health, and that is, forgetting that methylfolate isn’t everything.

This is truly the mistake most likely to be made, followed closely by trying to change everything all at once and getting into a tangle.

It’s really easy to think of MTHFR as a “folate thing,” forgetting that the twenty other steps in the pathway that have to happen for MTHFR to have any impact, need other nutrients. Even the one step we’re obsessed with needs other nutrients.

While our mutation does have “folate” in its name and that seems like a compelling reason to focus on folate, if folate is all you focus on, it isn’t going to work out.

I’m not sure if anybody remembers S1E1 when we talked about how MTHFR was like a magic chair, but lets revisit that idea.

MTHFR is a gene. A tiny genetic code that help your body to build an enzyme of the same name. Enzymes are a special type of protein that I like to talk about in terms of being a magic chair. The magic that happens in this chair is like alchemy – it’s a lead to gold type of transition. Essentially, the magic chair turns something reasonably worthless into something incredibly valuable. Like I said, alchemy.

The MTHFR magic chair turns folate, folic acid, and folinic acid into the active form of the nutrient that actually does something in your body. This folate-gold, is called methylfolate or 5-L methyl tetrahydrofolate, if we want to be specific. Without the magic chair, the methylfolate never happens. If methylfolate doesn’t happen then things start breaking down.

MTHFR in the simplest terms possible – it’s a magic chair.

We see errors in cellular reproduction, problems with turning on or off particular genetic signals, trouble building neurotransmitters, inability to kill off damaged cells, toxins piling up, and big issues with conceiving babies, carrying babies, and building the central nervous systems on which healthy babies rely. The methylfolate gold is vital in helping us prevent cancer, prevent heart disease, reproduce, and maintain our mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing. It really is gold.

So for genetically “wild type” humans, which is what researchers call people with the typical MTHFR genes, this enzyme functions as well as it can given their nutritional status. It can still be compromised by lack of quality folate and lack of cofactors, but those are the only things slowing it down.

For MTHFR folks, the different mutations, most commonly C677T or A1298C, cause the chair to change shape a bit. Essentially, they give the chair a lump somewhere really important, like the seat or the headrest. Something that makes it hard for the folate to effectively sit in the chair so it can undergo the magic that turns it into methylfolate gold.

MTHFR mutations that matter are A1298C and C677T

So as the very basic point, I’m hoping you understand that you need the chair and the folate to click together. What we haven’t talked about, is what is needed for the magic to happen. Remember back to our alchemical change here – we’re making lead into gold and that’s a big deal. So obviously some magic happens, and in this particular case that magic needs another nutrient in order to spark. That nutrient is riboflavin. Riboflavin isn’t in the name of our mutation and Dr. Google doesn’t talk about it as much as he or she should.

So circling back to the initial statement, the biggest mistake that I see in people who have been treating their own MTHFR stuff by themselves, is that they forget about other B vitamins.

I have to point out an obvious fact that is easy to overlook. There are no “C vitamins” or “D vitamins.” There is a vitamin C, singular, and a vitamin D, also singular. So why, then, are there so darn many Bs? The bottom line is that the Bs are all Bs because they function largely as a group. No one B vitamin is involved in any big process that doesn’t also involve some or all of the rest of the B vitamins.

Vitamin C is off doing its own thing as an antioxidant, but the Bs are a team. They are all working together all of the time. Folate is a B. Riboflavin is also a B. Guess how many B vitamins you need for all of the functions related to healthy methylation? Well, the trick answer there, is all of them. Especially when you get off into making things like cellular energy or neurotransmitters and detoxifying things. The Bs always work as a team and if you’re missing Bs, then the process is stalled. Riboflavin is nowhere in the name of our mutation, but it is as necessary as folate because riboflavin makes the magic happen.

Is Riboflavin the only other B vitamin you should be taking? Nope. They’re a team, remember? So as you’re following along with the program, now is the time to start the other B vitamins – preferably in a multivitamin. It’s a great way to get everything in one swift stroke, rather than taking an individual pill for each thing.

The issue is that we don’t want folic acid, because it’s essentially toxic for us MTHFR folks, and we aren’t ready to start 5-LMTHF as a supplement yet either. So what can we do? Well, Ben Lynch, another MTHFR mutant who had the foresight to start a supplement company, called Seeking Health, that caters to genetic issues, made some great multivitamins without anything methylated just for this purpose. They can be a great way to start the journey by giving your body the rest of the “B team” without getting into weird territory with the folate.

If you can’t get those particular products, look for a multivitamin that has 5-LMTHF as the form of folate in the lowest dose possible. One a day multis are not the best choice because they usually have 400 micrograms or more just to meet the daily requirement. Many good multis will be in a two per day or even 4 per day format and a lot of times if you start one of those at the lowest possible dose (like taking 1 out of the 4 pills per day that you’re supposed to take) then you can get a reasonable background of B vitamins with a very low dose of methylfolate. Again, make sure the only folate in the product is methylfolate or folinic acid which is also safe for us.

The goal here is to get ready to start a methylfolate supplement by having a great background of other B vitamins.

By this time you have a couple of weeks of symptom tracking since stopping folic acid and since adding in food sources of natural folate. You may have noticed some changes. From those changes we might be able to predict how your methylfolate start will go.

Stopping folic acid made me feel:Adding natural folate makes me feel:5-LMTHF will probably…
BetterWorsebe difficult for me to tolerate so start with none or the very lowest dose possible.
BetterBetterbe a bit easier for me to tolerate. Still start low, but finding a good dose should be smoother.
Worse – – – I’ve never actually seen this so I don’t know.

Interestingly, we can also predict a bit based on your basic state. Last week we talked a bit about basic state so we don’t need to do so again, but overmethylators generally tolerate higher doses of methylfolate than undermethylators do. It’s a guideline and not a general rule so it’s important for everyone to start slowly and carefully.

Make sure you’ve got all the other B vitamins in there first and avoid the most common pitfall people experience when they are relying solely on Dr. Google.

I’m really excited to say that I’m in the process of building a Patreon page, which is a great way for you to show support for this show if you feel like you’re getting something out of it. I love doing the show and I want to keep putting great information out there for free so that it’s reasonably accessible to people of all financial means. But also, at the end of the day, I have to be able to support myself and contribute to my family’s wellbeing. So if you’re able to become a patron on Patreon, I would really appreciate it and I have lots of special content planned. Now, my site isn’t live just yet – I”m in the process of building it out – but when it is it will be found at Patreon.com/thwt. I’ll see what I can do to get it live before next week’s episode.

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S2E4: Adding Food Sources of Folate

Food sources of folate (natural folate, not foods enriched with folic acid) are some of the best foods out there, so with MTHFR we truly are blessed that our healthy foods are also some of the foods that taste the best. Also, high folate foods are heavily represented in Tex-Mex, so there’s another reason to be grateful.

The average person should shoot for about 400 mcg of natural folate daily. For the full nutritional requirements and more information about it, read this post.

Almost all natural food sources – beans, pulses, some meats, fruits, and vegetables, have natural folate in them. It’s easy to come by in a healthy, well-rounded diet. That doesn’t mean that everyone gets good amounts, but if you’ve made any healthy changes to your diet, you’re probably in better shape folate-wise than you think you are. Let’s talk about major food sources.

Beans, Pulses, and Legumes.

These miracle foods are high on the best-foods-for-health list anyway, but if you’re an MTHFR mutant, then so much the better. A few bean-related tips:

  • Cooked from dried beans always have more folate in them than canned.
  • Soaking dried beans before cooking helps to reduce cooking time.
  • Cooking from dried generally takes a while.
  • Mashed beans can be added to almost any recipe in place of oil to add moisture (as you might add applesauce)
  • Bean flour can be used as well – checkpea flour is reasonably easy to find.
  • Beans are high in fiber so if you suddenly start eating them you’ll notice more gas, but as your body gets used to a higher fiber diet the gas will settle down.
  • Beans and other high fiber foods are great for your digestive health and help provide a happy environment for all those good bacteria everyone keeps going on about.
Food typeFolate (mcg) per 100gFolate (mcg) per cup
Lentils (cooked from dried)280358
Black beans (cooked from dried)200256
Black beans (canned)119152
Chickpeas (cooked from dried)220282
Chickpeas (canned)126161
Edamame (frozen)311 398
Red kidney beans (canned)102131
Black eyed peas (cooked from dried)280358
Black eyed peas (canned)95122
Peanut butter (all natural, 100% peanuts)92118
Peanuts237.5304

You’ll notice that a cup of beans will typically provide 50-90% of your daily recommended folate in one fell swoop. Easy peasy.

Fruits and Vegetables

There are a number of great fruit and veggie sources of natural folate as well, and fruits and veggies with two meals will go a long way to racking up those natural folate micrograms.

Food typeFolate (mcg) per 100gFolate (mcg) per cup
Asparagus7 spears – 15412 spears – 264
Avocado81 152
Broccoli6178
Okra5874
Papaya4153
Spinach (cooked)205263
Green peas6685
Orange3646

Condiments

This entire category is pretty much for one line item, which is marmite. Marmite is a yeast extract that is very popular in Great Britain and was the original source from which folate was discovered. 100 g of marmite has a whopping 1250 mcg of folate (unhelpfully labeled folic acid because the terms are interchangeable) but there is no earthly human who could possibly choke down 100g of marmite in one day under threat of mortal peril. A “serving size” on the marmite website contains 100 mcg but it is unclear what the serving size actually is. I’m guessing, it’s enough marmite to spread a thin layer on a piece of toast.

If marmite isn’t a thing you have grown up with, it is something of an acquired taste. I love it and eat it daily – typically on rice cakes because I’m gluten free and typically with a bit of butter and avocado. It’s divine. Two rice cakes like this, you will notice, is also my 400 mcg of folate because it’s marmite and avocado combined. Food genius. Plus, it’s heavenly.

On the marmite website, there is an additional product, which I have not ever seen, called marmite and peanut butter. If you’ve never tried marmite you are probably not as appalled by this thought as I am. I am also very curious. Marmite is salty-tangy and peanut butter is, well, peanut-buttery. The two don’t go together in my mind, but obviously, people like the combo enough to make a mixed product. So what do I know? I do have to point out that peanuts are also high in natural folate.

So the goal here is 400 mcg daily, which is easiest to do if you just plan to accommodate some beans, some fruit and veg, and maybe some marmite to spice things up. Also, if you’ve never tried marmite before I highly recommend you film your reaction the first time you eat it and join the thousands of other marmite reactions on youtube because it’s a pretty vivid flavor. If you do this thing, please loop me in and send me the video – I would love to see it.

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